Michael Adamson was an experienced spark, who died on 4 August 2005 as the result of an electrical incident. He was only 26 years old and was engaged to be married. Like so many work-related deaths, it was an incident which could and should have been prevented.
Motivated by the need to stop this from happening to others, Michael's story is told by his sister Louise.
She talks through the catalogue of errors in health and safety management - any one of which would have been serious enough on its own – which accumulated to prove fatal. These included:
- Failure to implement safe isolation procedures;
- Failure to provide lock off devices and testing equipment referred to in the employer’s own method statement;
- Failure to document changes to wiring plans and to ensure testing procedures were carried out;
- Failure to ensure risk assessments were updated; and
- Failure to ensure the effective management and supervision of health and safety.
Michael's employer was found guilty of health and safety offences and fined £300,000. However, this provides little in the way of justice and nothing in the way of comfort for Michael's family. Telling his story will help ensure a lasting legacy from his untimely, unnecessary and entirely preventable death.
Why tell Michael's Story?
The Health and Safety Executive's press release issued after conclusion of the trial of Michael's employer stated:
"Michael Adamson's death could have been prevented had his employer ensured that safe working practices were being carried out in accordance with the company's own written procedures. Managers and supervisors in this industry must take active steps to ensure that their electricians work safely".
Louise doesn't want any other family to have to hear something like this which is why she now devotes time to telling her brother's story in workplaces around the UK and beyond.
More about Michael
"A big bundle of fun & the most genuine of guys you could ever meet. He will always be remembered as the guy that bounced in and out of peoples' homes, workplaces and wherever he was, with a cheeky smile, his usual banter and without a care in the world. He was the best friend anyone could hope for - kind, considerate and thought of everyone else before himself, and he was simply my best buddy."
Those were the words of his best friend, delivering his eulogy at his funeral. Michael was a son, brother and fiancé who did not live to get the opportunity to become an uncle, a husband, or a dad, all of which he would have been utterly brilliant as.
He was a keen golfer, a Hearts fan, and the best of laughs (well, he'd have to be, what with being a Jambo and all) . He could be a bit of a feartie growing up. Ask Louise about the rollercoaster incident! But he had grown to be the one you knew you could rely on in times of crisis.
His legacy deserves to live long.
More about Louise
It was her brother's death that led Louise into the field of health and safety and that now sees her telling her wee brother's story in workplaces and at conferences across the UK and Europe. Her primary aim in doing so is to prevent others from losing their life or their loved one to a preventable workplace incident.
Before becoming a workplace safety speaker, Louise spent 13 years working as an employment lawyer for a top Scottish firm. She'll tell you she wasn't a "normal" lawyer (Is any lawyer "normal" we hear you ask ). In Louise's case, the abnormality was her role as a Professional Support Lawyer. She kept track of legislative and case-law developments, translating them into easily digestible updates for clients. She prepared and delivered training on many topics, including equality and diversity; prevention of harassment; disciplinary and grievance processes and absence management. Her role also involved the scripting of Mock Employment Tribunals, the most popular event in the firm's annual event calendar.
Louise is now using the skills she learned in her time as a lawyer, applying them in the health and safety field, and seeking to ensure others are able to head home safe to their loved ones at the end of each and every working day or night.
At the end of her working days or nights, Louise returns home to her husband and two boys, she enjoys getting to a drop-in class at the gym and to the highly enjoyable hour and a half of the week that is kicking a ball about at a women's football fitness class. Now in her forties, she'd like to say she hasn't lost it. But truth is, she didn't ever have it in the first place.