The Health and Safety Inspector, Part 1

This is just something I had been working on, for the hell of it. It was just something to keep me writing. The first part of a short story involving a rather odd government official….

Photo by Anamul Rezwan on Pexels.com

Harry was found face down on the warehouse floor, surrounded by splatters of blood and shards of broken glass. His body had exploded on impact. He’d been up on the roof attending to the sky lights the previous evening and it seemed that he had lost his footing and fallen through one of the old, single glazing windows that dotted the flat roof the building. Steve had been the first person in the building that morning, and it was he who had discovered the grizzly scene.

Silly bugger, he had thought. What was he doing up on the roof by himself? Steve knew that Harry had been the last person in the building the previous evening.  He also had thought that Harry had better sense than to go up onto the roof without informing anyone. Shock had left Steve unable to grasp the enormity of the situation and he was currently more ready to blame Harry than grieve for him.

The crowd began to shuffle and murmur, as a slender, pale man dressed in a grey suit made his way to the scene.

“Everyone make way, please! Make your way to the emergency rendezvous site and await further instruction!” spoke the man in a monotone, almost robotic voice

“Who are you?” asked the foreman.

“Why, I’m the health and safety inspector.” he said, producing and ID card. “There has been a terrible accident, as you can see. I must carry out my investigation” said the man as he approached Harry’s remains, clasping both hands.

For the briefest of seconds, Steve could have sworn the man smiled.

“You heard the man, everyone out!” said the foreman.

The scene of the accident was isolated, and a curtain barrier was erected around the body. As the day went on, the Health & Safety Inspector carried out his investigation in silence. Or at least, Steve assumed he did, as no one was allowed back in. After a few hours, the Health and Safety Inspector informed everyone they could come back in and that the body had been taken to the local hospital morgue. The blood had been cleaned from the floor, but the glass shards still remained.

Odd, thought Steve, I don’t remember anyone else arriving on site. Police, or ambulance. Maybe they came and went through a side entrance to avoid causing a further scene.

Days turned to weeks and months, and the shock of Harry’s death had not subsided. Steve felt he could no longer work at the warehouse and decided to change jobs. He secured a role at a timber merchants, working in the factory where the cut the wood into various shapes for delivery to hardware supply shops.

The job paid well, and the people were sound and proud in their work. Steve enjoyed his employment and there was relatively little drama. That is, until six months after he started.

Old Smithy was one of the longest serving members of staff and had been using the same piece of machinery for nearly twenty years. It was due a replacement, but budget constraints meant that they were going to have to wait to the new financial year before they could procure a new one. One Tuesday afternoon the machinery jammed, and Smithy went to fix it as he had done countless times. He removed the guard of the machines blade without turning off the power and severed three fingers on his right hand. Steve was able to administer first aid to Smithy and shouted for another member of staff to phone 999.

“No, no! Don’t be doing that just yet!” a strangely familiar voice said. “I need to carry out my investigation first and therefore need to speak with the injured party alone.”

It was the strange, slender Health and Safety Inspector. He moved over the factory floor swiftly, almost as if he was gliding.

“How did you get here so quickly?” asked Steve, we haven’t even reported the accident yet.”

“We in the Health and Safety Ministry always seem to be in the right place at the right time, it would seem” he said. “Now off you all go, give us some privacy, please”

Steve did as he was asked and left. He walked straight to the manager’s office to inform them of the accident and that the Health and Safety Inspector was here. Steve and the manager rushed back to Smithy’s machine, only to find a note that read:

I have taken the injured party to the hospital. He would like to inform you that he will not be returning to this place of work ever again. Regards, the Inspector.

“Bloody hell” whispered the manager “I hope he doesn’t sue us…”

Steve cursed under his breath at the managers callous reaction. As he turned to leave, he noticed something odd. Where there had been blood on the floor and machinery, there was now none. There had been a lot of blood too, and it had been sent flying everywhere as the saw had cut through Smithy’s hand. Steve felt it very odd that it had all been cleaned up. He gave it no more thought; the Inspector must have cleaned it up before he left. He must have.

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