A statistic with a name I know. A reflection.

I spent some time last night, looking at photos of my brother on FB, at his photos of the family he and his wife have created.

Looking at his photos, seeing how much has changed over the years between them and the young family they’ve created together.

Last night, or more correctly last morning at 02:00 HRS. 

Text messages, both him and his wife. Its been a bit busy here up north, even more so down that way down south it seems. I dragged myself out of bed Friday morning (just gone) on the advice from my partner, that I’d better call my brother’s wife.

We expect these calls but never plan for what comes with them.

I had messages on my phone saying my younger brother had been injured badly in a work accident.

A load roller change out on a tracked mining machine. Standard procedure, nothing unusual. Just another routine job and done.

Nothing unusual. Except the back channel grumble about management and safety on site.

The bolts on this roller are a little buggered you see but we’ve got the right tools for the job. Just set it up, get it done.

Make sure you sign your JSA and do a Take 5 first, wear your gloves, the usual shit, its all been done before. Everything’s being done by the books.

And then it happens, that illusory factor that exhibits itself at the worst opportunity and it wreaks its havoc upon whomever happens to be in its path.

That night-shift, it was one of my own. My brother. Not some unknown name, another statistic .

A 1000 plus kilograms of steel and some more. A broken leg and damaged hand. The shock, the first aid response, those workers who volunteered their skills in recovering the injured, doing the best they can in that situation.

Many years ago, at the mine we both started our apprenticeships, there was a fatal accident.

My brother tells me that the thought of that incident and how it would affect his family was the first thing that crossed his mind in that instant.

It all happens so fast, just like we’re told in every induction we’ve been through since we started in this game all those years ago. There’s no way you dodge the physics of this kind of thing when you’re in the line of fire.

Looking at his photos on FB last night it something became apparent to me, he ain’t my younger brother anymore. He hasn’t been for a long while now.

He’s a husband, a father.

Together, with his wife, they’ve faced their challenges and it’s changed them. It’s changed him in the way life changes the look on a man’s face. That realisation that things aren’t the way they were spelt out to you initially or how you perceive them when you’re younger, that you’ll be thrown into situations that you won’t have the answers for immediately or even after some time.

I see this in his photos. I can’t explain it right at this point but he seems somewhat unrecognisable in the realisation of his personal realities. He’s no longer the familiar brother, the younger, just another family member you occasionally call up to see how things are. He’s a husband and a father.

I don’t have all those commitments myself and maybe that’s the dissonance I’m feeling now. I have a mortgage but he has people depending on what he does, his ability to provide and protect. This is one of those moments where the realities of life come rolling in and make their presence known.

There’s an aspect to individual life, an aspect that your closest relatives and friends might not see because they’re always interacting with you.

The photos. The familiarity of a common past. The distance created when you move away and start your own lives. Those factors create a disconnection and reliance on the memories of the past or selected instances. I call it the social media effect.

Sudden changes will focus you onto these aspects, even in a photo. It wakes you up to who you’re looking at and the realities we face and the changes that happen to us as we move through life.

I found it revealing. I’ve never experienced this apart from witnessing the passing of my parents many years ago. But that was different, we expected that, they were sick and that’s how life plays out. You see it coming, even subconsciously, you’re waiting like a nail for that hammer.

What happened to my brother is different. We prepare ourselves and our work environments to prevent this kind of thing happening. We have safe systems of work, tier one companies, OHS reps, Unions, JSA’s etc. right?

Ask yourself, look around your workplace. Think about it. How many compromises do we get away with daily?

This time next year he should be walking again after the surgeries and rehabilitation. And so should his youngest son (for his first time). Between here and then there’ll be a lot of changes to his family’s lifestyle.

I have a saying as a tradie, you’re only one accident away from a career change, wheelchair or a bodybag. I’ve seen it a few times and heard of it plenty more. We all have either personally or in the news.

It’s only a few nights ago the Reaper took a swing at my brother and only wounded him.

And I’ll say we’re all so lucky the fucker’s aim was off.

P.S.

I wrote this reflection around the time post incident a couple of months ago and things have straightened out some more now and the details relating to this incident have slowly become a little more apparent. I won’t go into the details but suffice to say, I’ve extensive experience working in the same sector of our economy and I’m more than aware of what’s going on with this situation. Too add to my initial analysis, my brother’s condition and outlook has markedly improved and he’s now a lot more mobile than it initially looked like it would be at the time. And the youngest boy is just starting to get independently mobile as well. It’ll be a year or three before this is all worked out. It’ll be a bunch of life lessons we’ll all reference for years to come.

Something about those numbers.

It never fails to surprise me when I hear of the claim “we need more female CEOs” in the workplace.

I’m always left asking the question: Why not more plumbers, police and ambulance operators?

I’ve recently been working my way through Warren Farrell’s-The Myth of Male Power– in which he details the risks in the workplace of which men routinely take the burden. He describes this societal dynamic as “My body, not my choice”.

It’s an interesting concept.

I remember seeing a graphic on the wall of the medical centre at a recent work site I was on stating that the current workplace fatality rate was above 90% for the males in the industry in Australia.

Every construction site I’ve been on, in the 17 years I’ve been in this industry, has a gender imbalance of males. Why is that the case? Does the feminist academia and political scene have something to say about this aspect?

Dr. Farrell offers the concept of the financial womb that males provide society. And with that the comes the risks of injury and fatality that each sector of the economy inherently contains.

Tonight, I’ve read a blog post by Jim Rose detailing the workplace injury/fatality rates by gender in New Zealand for 2015.

“all but three of the fatal workplace accidents in NZ were men”.

Here’s the link to provide some support to what I’m talking about,

Workplace deaths/injuries in New Zealand for 2015.

As the saying goes, this ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve been on enough of this projects to know better and I’m slowly racking up a number of jobs I’ve walked away from due to safety concerns.

And it’s hard sometimes when you consider the old “harden the fuck up” cliché and the financial aspect of the role you take on as a male worker.

I’ve had female friends (in defence of the feminist stance) describe this as an aspect of the famed patriarchy doing its thing and I believe there’s a part truth there in that claim.

But what stuns me is the lack of realisation, that there’s a whole lot of women in our community that’ll go along quietly with this, as the economic security provided by that patriarchy supports the matriarchy that walks hand in hand with it.

This to me, is one of the more spineless aspects of feminism.

The claim for money and power, inherent in feminism’s edicts, in pursuit of the ideal of equality, is baseless until they recognise the risk/hazard factor that exists in the modern economy regarding the grunt work that makes the wheels of industry turn.

I’ll believe that the average feminist has the courage of their convictions, when I see the gender imbalance on construction sites, weighted in favour of their claimed equality and we all see as a society women embracing employment outside of the usual occupations that females seem to dominate.

Some how I don’t think we’ll be seeing any changes soon.

Winter time=Business time.

Talking to my bro today.

He’s currently two thirds through the offspring’s birthday celebrations at the moment.

They have three of them.

I didn’t realise this but apparently they’re all a week apart with their respective birthdays.

Apparently winter was a good time for “business time” as a famed pair of Kiwis sang/white fella rapped about some time ago.

I suppose living in a location that corresponds with “normal” seasonal transitions helps as well.

Not like the most of northern Australia. Which is either wet or dry.

#straya.

The wind down.

I’m done with this one. The scenery here is home to me as I’m from up the Gulf way but the project I’m on doesn’t meet my long developed standards of performance.

The saying goes “Prior planning prevents piss poor performance” and what I’ve seen so far on this project has confirmed that cliche nearly every day so far.

This episode has left me disappointed as this project should’ve been an easy one to roll up quickly but the company I’ve been hired too doesn’t seem to have their planning and resourcing capabilities developed to a level that enables them to prevent delays or react to any incurred or potential negative aspects that are inherent to this industry.

We all come across these types in the environments we find our employment in, we’ve all got these experiences. 

No big deal really. That’s life. That’s humans for ya.

You learn how to manage these issues in a professional manner, although I’m embarrassed to say that I was blindsided with this one. 

I’ll learn to ask “those” questions next time before I sign on.

Dusk in the ghetto.

I’m currently enjoying the accomodation at a location called Rocky Point here in Weipa.

I’m here for work.

It’s a little old. And by that I mean it looks like it was built in the 70s. 

It probably was.

It has shared ablutions for the rooms here. And modern construction workers hate that shit. Ya never know what you’re standing in while ya shower.

Happy thoughts ain’t it.

Back up North.

After a near 4 month break from work I’ve decided to dip my toe back into that swamp we call the working life.

I’ve scored a short contract up at Weipa assisting the install teams building communications towers around the bauxite mine here.

I’m here to do the power side of things I’m told.

It shouldn’t be too much of a deal going by the size of the conduits they’ve installed for the underground cabling.

A genset, PV panel array and a small demountable building, to hold the battery banks and control equipment and the associated cables. That’s about it by the looks of things. And some aviation lights on the mast. Can’t forget those. And the antennas and aerials as well.

We’ve got three of these sites to build.

I’ve only been here two days so far and haven’t seen the plans for this project so I’ll take what I’ve picked up so far with a grain of salt. It’s looking like another Kodak moment, as we working kind have named the phenomenon.

As with a few of the projects I’ve taken part of, there’s the usual delays and SNAFUs that happen. The remoteness of these locations adds a multiplier factor to those complications.

Any ways it should all start to frame a picture of things both good and bad by the end of the week.

I hear the fishing’s good here.

Trad’s ad.

They’re at it again.

There’s a State election coming up soon and that lot are squaring off over their pet issues and making public displays of the bents and biases.

One of these displays I’ve observed recently was Queensland Labor’s take on their opposition to the State LNP’s plan to oppose any recategorisation of lever action shotguns in line with the recommendations of the recent NFA meeting held recently.

I could do a take down of their idiocy piece by piece but as it turns out…someone’s done the hard work for us all.

Enjoy.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5XP_dA6n6BM

Well done to the team at NIOATV for this effort.