SafetyAtWorkBlog evolved out of an online publication, safetyATWORK. In 2001, safetyATWORK published a special edition of the magazine focussing on the OHS issues related to the collapse of the World Trade Centre (WTC) in September 2011. That special edition is now available as a free download through the cover image on the right.
The magazine contains:
- an article by Lee Clarke on planning for the worst-case scenarios;
- an interview with Peter Sandman,
- an article by me, Kevin Jones,
and other articles concerning
- The best laid (disaster) plans
- Families take on renewed importance
- Communication with employees
- Protecting high-rise office buildings against terrorism
- National outrage and its workplace effect
- Plight attendants testify on aircraft security issues
- How should KR and managers react?
- WTC still a threat to area health.
Many of these articles have dated, understandably, as the examination of the WTC rubble continued and new safety and health issues emerged.
The coverage of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 to this point has focussed on the political and personal impacts of the event. Several firefighters have been interviewed in which the health effects of the rescue or the premature death of their colleagues were mentioned, but several of the issues raised in the special edition of the magazine have not progressed as they could.
The western world continues to build skyscrapers and to promote them to iconic status. This similar status of the World Trade Center made them targets not only for Al-Qaeda but also an earlier terrorist attack. I suggested, at the time, that workers’ anxieties over working in high-rise buildings may lead to a redesign of office buildings. This has not occurred.
Lee Clarke writes that disaster planning can often be seen as producing fantasy documents. There is certainly much more risk management earlier in projects than there used to be but, in many ways, the risk registers are just as fantastical as plans over ten years ago. To some extent the plans and planning have become even more divorced from reality since the swine flu epidemic several years ago. It seems that each time a potential threat is anticipated and then fails to live up to that level of threat, weakens the public’s faith in risk planning.
In another article, Angelo Pinheiro, of the Pan Canadian Energy Corporation, suggested the following changes to building design and work practices:
- Improved evacuation processes,
- improved emergency response plans,
- positive pressure air conditioning systems,
- better internal communications systems,
- more lateral building construction, and
- increased telecommuting.
Telecommuting has certainly increased but this is likely due more to technological change that workers’ reluctance to work at heights.
SafetyAtWorkBlog would be interested in hearing readers thoughts on how 9/11 changed the way they manage safety and health at their workplaces.