When writing about the events that helped shape safety and health standards and practices, a major part of the story involves the numbers…..the number of people who were injured, ill or died. The numbers get our attention. The main focus for safety and health practitioners is a discussion of what went wrong and the hazards and related factors that led to the events. The lessons learned address what should have been done to prevent the event or how to ensure that any similar future event does not occur.
Often lost are the human stories about the individuals directly involved in those events and how they were affected. Rarely are those individual stories captured in the information about the events. Many safety and health practitioners have experienced the human pain, suffering and emotion of events affecting one or more persons or families. With the story about Our Lady of Angels School fire in Chicago, the authors of the book To Sleep With the Angels did an outstanding job of capturing the human aspects of this catastrophic event and offer the human part of the story for the readers.