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Life Lessons – Learning the Hard Way

Don’t Learn the Hard Way

We put a great deal of emphasis on the importance of recognizing safety hazards, knowing how to avoid them and being an active participant in your workplace safety culture. These safety principles are key to making sure that you and your coworkers go home to your families day after day. Staying safe requires us to move beyond knowledge of these principles, to actively applying them every single day in everything that we do. It only takes one mistake for your life to change forever.

But don’t take our word for it – the individuals and families below know first hand the impact that a workplace incident can have on you and the lives around you.

You can also enroll in our Life Lessons – Learning the Hard Way course, which features filmed interviews of three individuals whose lives have been significantly impacted by workplace incidents – a young man who lost his arm on a drilling rig, a young woman who suffered a disabling crushing incident, and a man who lost his son to a preventable workplace fatality.

Learn more.

Student Contest Winners

Throughout the 2015-2016 school year, we ran video and essay contests asking students to tell us about their experiences in the workplace. Students were asked to send in a short video or essay outlining a workplace incident or near-miss that they either experienced or witnessed, describing what went wrong and how it could have been avoided, and what lessons they learned as a result of their experience.

We received some really great entries and we were impressed by the variety of workplaces and circumstances that the experiences came out of. These entries will form the basis for a new and exciting course titled, “That’s Got to Hurt! Lessons from the Workplace”. The contests closed on May 31 and we will be posting the winners here soon!

You can join the conversation too. Share your own experiences, safety tips and ideas with us by using the hashtag #SISOuch.


One Step in the Wrong Direction

Candace Carnahan: lost her left leg below the knee to an unguarded conveyor belt at age 21

What lessons can we take away from Candace’s experience?

  • It only takes a second:  don’t allow yourself to become distracted – if your body is present, your mind needs to be as well.
  • Speak up when you see something hazardous: even if everyone else is doing something, or seems fine with a hazard, that doesn’t make it safe.
  • Exercise your right to refuse unsafe work: there is legislation in place to protect you – use it!
  • It’s not just about you: workplace injuries and fatalities don’t just affect you – they affect your family, your friends, your coworkers and your community.

Is there another lesson that you took away from this? Share it in the comments!

Where’s The Line?

Tim Hamilton: electrocuted while raising a party tent at age 19

What lessons can we take away from Tim and his loved ones’ experience?

  • Don’t be afraid to say no: you have the right to refuse unsafe work – exercise it.
  • When working around electricity, know the safe limit of approach: if you’re unsure, look it up.
  • Always take personal responsibility for your own safety: don’t rely on others to put your safety first or to know all of the dangers.
  • One mistake can cost you your life: if you think something might be dangerous, assume that it is and talk to your supervisor.

Is there another lesson that you took away from this? Share it in the comments!

Live, Love, Learn, Repeat

Daniel Plexman: severely burned working as an electrical apprentice


What lessons can we take away from Dan’s experience?

  • Everything about your life changes after a serious injury.
  • It only takes one second for everything to change.
  • Family, friends, loved ones are the ones who have to live through it while you’re in hospital.

Is there another lesson that you took away from this? Share it in the comments!

Adele Tait – Investigator of Workplace Fatalities

Adele shares some of her experiences on the investigation side of workplace fatalities. She has seen some terrible tragedies and shares some of the lessons she has learned from the cases she has investigated.

Before Day’s End

Before Day’s End – Fulll Version from CLAC on Vimeo.

I Chose to Look the Other Way

Families and friend are not the only people who suffer the impact of a workplace injury or fatality. Coworkers have their own unique struggles to face in the aftermath of a serious workplace incident. Oftentimes, coworkers feel significant guilt, especially if they believe there is something they could have done to stop the incident from occurring. Working safely is important not just to keep yourself from getting injured, but to ensure the safety of your coworkers as well. No one ever wants to feel the kind of guilt that comes along with seeing a person seriously injured or killed on the jobsite – especially knowing that your words, actions or attitude could have helped prevent it.

The following poem, written by Don Merrell, is written from the perspective of someone struggling with the aftermath of losing a coworker to a workplace incident. This poem truly encompasses the challenges surviving coworkers face after a loss.

chose to look the other way