How can it be Whittall’s fault that he oversaw an operation that was dangerously unsafe?
When something goes wrong and when people die as a result, the natural reaction is to look for someone to blame.
But what possible good would it do to try and make an example of Whittall? To at least attempt to send a message that workplace safety must be taken seriously, and that bosses should strive harder to make their places of work safe? What good would it do?
This was a one-off accident, just like all those one-off deaths in the forestry industry we’re seeing at the moment. It’s not as if New Zealand has a culture of complacency when it comes to workplace safety. I’m so confident that all those forestry deaths are unrelated to the issue of workplace safety, that I’m refusing to examine the evidence out of principle. I won’t look! I’m closing my eyes!
Sure, mistakes were made. But who doesn’t make the odd mistake now and then? You should see some of the crazy things I’ve seen and done at my workplace. I once dropped a stapler on my foot, and it hurt for almost ten seconds. But nobody prosecuted me.
Accidents happen, and nobody is ever to blame. It’s just the way it is in our deregulated utopia.
Can we all move on now?