OUR SAY | A terrible message that needs to be re-told

Last week The Courier spoke of the value of the Worksafe campaign which maintains that every worker in every profession deserves to make it home every day. 

This weeks, thanks to the generosity, courage and stoicism of the Brownlee and Howkins families, we reiterate this message in a whole new way.

For those unfamiliar with their story we can simply encourage them to read today’s feature and glimpse just what a legacy such a workplace incident leaves behind.

For those who may be unfamiliar with an event that has much of Ballarat reeling, we say again, it is simply not good enough to dismiss it as an accident, an unavoidable ‘act of God.’

While we will not attempt to establish the cause or blame, the investigation into the death of the two men, Charlie Howkins and Jack Brownlee, at the March trench collapse in Delacombe could take months, but what we do know from that work site is something went terribly wrong. 

We know the basics; the two men found themselves buried in up to 3.2 metres of rubble after the trench collapsed where the pair were working as part of the Winterfield construction site.

We also know a trench of at least 1.5m deep must have adequate support by shielding like benching and battering.

Worksafe’s job will now be to consider if that was the case and what other precautions were taken. 

They have their job but this is ours and we do it on behalf of two grieving families; to trumpet with sombre power until the message becomes indelible; safety cannot be an afterthought.

The pain of the Howkins and Brownlees should be the strongest wake up call of all; this is not a well crafted, sentimental commercial with a well–meaning message, these are real lives torn apart by real deaths.

We defy any reader to look at the picture of the beautiful children with their happy father and not think twice about what it is to leave those same hopeful faces fatherless for the rest of their lives.

This image shows just part the legacy of the trench disaster, along with a grieving widow and an empty space where once was a smiling, loving man. 

With this in mind we are not afraid to appear repetitive in our message; until workplace safety turns from being simply a bureaucratic bugbear to a non-negotiable.

The extra time, the extra care that the right preventative steps demand in every workplace have to be worth it, if only  to prevent that lasting misery.