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BeeHive  >  Press Articles  >  The Bee Side - waking up the working dead

The Bee Side - waking up the working dead

I promise you I'm not making this up, but I've just read in the New York Times about a guy who was dead at his office desk for five days before anyone noticed. Really. Evidently this bloke, George Turklebaum, who was a proof- reader at a New York firm, died of a heart attack on a Monday in the open plan office he shared with twenty three other workers, but no-one noticed until the Saturday when a cleaner tried to ask him why he was working at the weekend. I mean, how bad's that?

His boss, Elliot Wachiaski, is reported as saying: 'George was always the first guy in each morning and the last to leave at night, so no-one found it unusual that he was in the same position all that time and didn't say anything. He was always absorbed in his work and kept much to himself.'

George was only fifty one when he died, but obviously if we are to work for longer in the UK in the way our government would like us to in the future, then things like this are likely to become more commonplace than we'd like to think. If we're all going to end up working until we're 70, for instance, then it seems a fair bet that those of us who are going to die between sixty five and seventy will have at least some chance of popping our clogs while we're at work. The anti-ageism laws coming in from Brussels next year won't help either. We could end up with offices stacked full of seventy and eighty year-olds before we know it!

If the government is going to go ahead with its plans to keep us in a harness for longer and longer, then it will have to look at bringing in other legislation at the same time I think. A good start would be to require HR staff to go around each office at, say, hourly intervals and give everyone a nudge to see if they're all still OK. It should have been a clause in the pensions act.

Steve Bee


First published in Pensions Management, March 2005