One big reason to stop scorning safety

I was all set to re-cap my time at BlogWest, but then I hopped on Twitter and was not so subtlety reminded that today is the third anniversary of the Cougar flight 491 helicopter Crash in Newfoundland.

So BlogWest is going to have to wait.

I can’t believe it’s been three whole years. I was on the road for work that day, driving along the Route 235 on the Bonavista Peninsula when my work cell rang. It was my father, wondering if I had heard anything about a helicopter crash. Because I was (am) in the news biz, he thought I might have some knowledge. I didn’t, but I had an address book full of phone numbers of people who might. Because I was in a spotty area for cell service, I called my colleague at the office, and had him call the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre out of Halifax, the centre that handles all aircraft searched on Canada’s East Coast. Word quickly filtered back that yes, there had been a crash at sea, and no, there were no more details forthcoming at that time.

It didn’t take long, though.

18 people on board.
One survivor.

Months of accusations and enquiries and settlements. And now three years later, still 17 people dead and just one survivor.

I’m not old enough to remember the Ocean Ranger disaster, though I knew the story of course. A drilling rig capsized off the coast of Newfoundland during a winter storm in 1982, killing all 84 people on board.

So now I’m in Alberta, sending my other half into the oil patch every day. I know ocean storms and helicopter gear boxes have been removed from the equation, but the pursuit of oil still offers very real risk.

People, these are dangerous occupations. Wear your hard hats, your H2S monitors and your steel-toed boots. And look out for yourself.

I can’t change the world’s dependance on oil, nor do I think other energy sources would be any less hazardous. But I can remind people to slow down and stay safe, because there are other people waiting for you to come home every night.


4 responses to “One big reason to stop scorning safety

  1. As another woman who sends her beloved partner out to the oil patch all the time, I really appreciate your words. My husband is great about safety, but the occasional tragedies are all too real reminders of why these physical jobs can be worthy of fairly decent pay – they’re paying for that risk they take every day they work.

    Take care, and I’ll look forward to a BlogWest post from you soon 🙂

    • Hi, Laurie!

      I realized after I posted that my thesis and conclusion were a little incongruent – safety is obviously about more than hard hats. Workers like your husband and my partner can be as safe as they like, but the whole operation from the very head office in Calgary right down to the rig hands and truck drivers need to be on board as well. But ultimately it’s as I said – I don’t know the answer. They had better (to use a NL expression here) just come home out of it!

      (Oh! A funny story – Travis came home with a new hardhat last night, and I was like “have you been reading my blog from work?” It was a total coincidence).

  2. That’s good advice for everyone. Slow down, stay safe.

    Now….tell us about BlogWest

    • Yeesh! I’m on deadline, with less than 3 hrs sleep. And my arms are aching from your mad 100 pushup challenge, so hold your horses.

      But yes, BlogWest. Just as soon as I catch a nap.

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