- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Categories: Blog, Feature
I worry when I hear people complaining that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. There is a good chance that there is a lot to be said for the opposing point of view.
Take health and safety or “elf ‘n’ safety” as the current breed of right-wing comics would have it. You do not have to go back many generations in most families to find people who died while working. Farming, mining and the sea immediately come to mind. As a matter of fact, wherever you worked, life was more dangerous in those days. Thanks to health and safety legislation, dying while at your work is much more rare today.
The slurry pit accident in which Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence died, together with his father and his brother, is sadly, not as rare as it should be. The Health and Safety Executive in Northern Ireland says that there has been one fatality a month on farms in the area during the past twenty months.
Think of the many former mining villages around Carmarthen. The family of one south Wales miner who was killed in a roof fall underground observed bitterly in the late 1920s, “It’s a pity he died on his own. At least if a few others had gone with him, a fund would have been set up.”
In Carmarthen we have become accustomed to ever bigger supermarkets. If you talk to officials of USDAW which is the union that represents shop workers you find that one of the main worries of shop assistants is being bullied by over-bearing customers.
A year after four miners were killed in the Gleision mining disaster in the Swansea Valley, Carwyn Jones, Wales’s First Minister said,
“The tragedy at Gleision must never be forgotten and lessons must be learned to make sure an incident like this doesn’t happen again and such events are consigned to history.”
A few years ago, David Cameron made a speech when he attacked Health and Safety legislation. I expect you vaguely remember it. He talked about schoolchildren whose headteachers made them wear goggles to play conkers. As it happened, this example came from the Health and Safety website where examples were given of the stupid, untrue things that people say.
Joni Mitchell sang,
“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone.”
When we think of our ancestors’ struggles let us make sure that what they achieved is not undone by us.