The eight men who perished during the construction of Titanic are an integral part of the story of the ship, and it is right that they are commemorated within the heart of east Belfast where the vast majority of shipyard workers came from. ~ First Minister Peter Robinson, Friday, 6 July 2012
From 1859 the Harland and Wolff shipyard produced some 1,750 vessels during over a century of continuous shipbuilding. It was the shipyard's contracts with the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, better known as the White Star Line, that produced some seventy-five vessels for the shipping line. The most famous ships amongst those vessels were the Olympic class liners Olympic, Titanic and Britannic.
The Olympic class liners were built on two massive slipways at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Construction of the Olympic began first and, from the end of March 1909 and for the next three years, thousands of workers at the Belfast shipyard of Harland and Wolff laboured to built the Titanic.
Today in industry the safety of workers is taken very seriously. Workers follow procedures for the use of plant and equipment, and activities are risk assessed to mitigate as much possible the risk of incidents occurring. Workers are provided with personal protective equipment; high-visibility clothing, hard hats and protective boots to help protect them when they come into contact with plant and equipment. Businesses record injury frequency rates and take action to remedy failures in procedures and learn lessons where injuries occur.
However, in 1912 the working standards in industry were lacking, and injury and death were a daily threat to workers. This wasn't a situation unique to shipyard workers, workers in other industries such as mining also faced the same daily threat. Sadly, during the building of the Titanic eight workers are believed to have lost their lives.