A MINUTE'S silence was held outside Kilncraigs this week as trade union and civic representatives once again gathered for International Workers' Memorial Day.

The annual memorial event was observed last Thursday, April 28, to remember those who lost their lives, or became seriously injured, at work and to "fight for the living".

Members of the UNISON and UNITE trade unions were joined by Provost Tina Murphy, who took part in her last formal event before retiring from council business this week, council chief executive Nikki Bridle and other representatives.

UNISON branch chair Andrew Kane led the event, and explained the theme for this year is "make safe and healthy work a fundamental right".

He told those gathered: "Health and safety in the workplace protects those at work, but also protects those in the wider community.

"Whether it's in our community hospitals, our schools, or in care homes for the elderly – I think it's fair to say that in the past years we have witnessed a renewed focus on the importance of health and safety in the workplace through many of the measures introduced to combat the spread of Covid-19.

"And now being scaled back, or removed, it is essential that we don't allow complacency to creep back in."

Provost Murphy spoke about the health and safety journey from the horrific conditions of the past and called on workers to become empowered when it comes to calling out any shortcomings.

"Do not be afraid to speak up and say: 'This isn't right'."

Clackmannanshire Council chief executive Nikki Bridle paid respects to those who have been killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.

"In remembering those who have suffered as a result of their work, we also aim to ensure the continued safety of the living", she said.

Pamela Robertson, UNISON branch secretary, explained it has been three years since the last proper commemoration was held at Kilncraigs, due to the pandemic.

She said: "Even though we may never know the true toll of deaths from Covid caught at work, or the ongoing legacy of long Covid, we must never forget how dangerously exposed to Covid-19 our public sector workers have been during the pandemic.

"We remember them all today along with those who have died at work through any other cause."

Seonaid Scott, health and safety adviser, spoke of a renewed commitment to keeping people safe as they return to work.

She added: "It can be easy to be overwhelmed when we look at the scope of health and safety across an organisation such as the council, or just to assume that we as individuals are too small to make a difference.

"However, if each one of us took five minutes a week to do one thing to improve health and safety, we would very soon see a difference."