Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Workplace fatality memorials

You know those displays that you see on the side of the road to memorialize tragic car crash fatalities?  I have seen them for car drivers and passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and roadside workers.  They are often for drunk driving crashes or a young person’s death.  Why do people put those up?

I can think of two reasons.  One is as a remembrance of the person who died.  Even if the victim’s family and friends don’t come by often, it can make them feel better knowing that the memorial is there to permanently testify to the victim’s life and the loss that they feel. 

But it also can be a very visceral educational reminder.  No matter who you are, when you see one of those you are reminded of the risks.  The risks of driving, drunk driving, biking, or whatever.  And hopefully, it reminds you to be careful and to avoid these risks. 

It is this second reason that brings me here today.  I heard a suggestion to create similar memorials for workplace fatalities.  If someone dies in a workplace explosion, getting caught in a machine, black lung disease in a coal mine, collapse of a building under construction, would we get a similar result?  If you were working in a factory and every time you passed by a grain silo and you saw the plaque reminding of the February 2, 2011 fatal explosion that killed Fred Ferrino, would it make you more careful?