Real People, Real Life

We often talk about statistics when we talk about workplace health and safety. Statistics give us an important look into the scale of the problem – we are hurting and killing too many people at work in this country – but they are impersonal and they don’t tell the full story. Behind every number is a person who has a family, friends, hobbies, ambitions and a whole future ahead of them. We can’t just talk about how many people are being injured at work or how many have lost their lives – we need to talk about how these tragedies affect real people every single day.

The videos below feature real people whose lives have been forever altered because of a workplace tragedy.

Fred Broughton

Fred is a father who has experienced every parents biggest fear – having to bury their own child. Fred’s son Bruce was working across the country when he suffered a fatal fall on the job. Just days before Fred and his wife Eva were expecting Bruce to come back home, an RCMP officer showed up at their doorstep to deliver the terrible news.

When you hear the statistic – “15 young workers were killed in Alberta over a 3 year period” – think of Fred and Eva and remember that their story is not unique.

Daniel Shoemaker

Daniel was 23 years old with his whole life ahead of him when he suffered a traumatic and life-changing injury on the job. As you listen to Daniel’s story, think about all of the things you do with your hands and arms. Think about what it would be like to have to re-learn how to do all these things with just one (not naturally dominant) arm.

Daniel has gone on to do some great things with his life – training and competing with Canada’s National Paralympic Snowboard and Surfing Teams, speaking on behalf of Safety in Schools, WorkSafe BC and others, and, most recently, launching his own business connecting people with adaptive lifestyle products that assist them to participate in sport and other activities. Despite his success, if given the chance to go back, Daniel would have done everything he could to avoid the incident that cost him his arm.

Nicole Sereda

Nicole had just finished her Journeyman Certificate Program to become a licensed Heavy Duty Mechanic. She had worked hard to reach that milestone and was excited to begin her career. A helpful, hard-working individual, Nicole didn’t think anything of it when she decided to help out a driver making deliveries to her jobsite by helping him unload. She trusted that the load was properly secured and that the driver knew what he was doing.

The next thing she knew, she was on the ground with a loader arm on top of her and her body crushed. Think of Nicole next time you are asked to do a favour at work if it is a task that you don’t normally do.

Candace Carnahan

Candace Carnahan lost her left leg below the knee to an unguarded conveyor belt at age 21 and has been sharing her story with employers, workers and youth eve since. Candace was the first speaker to go on tour with Safety in Schools. She visited more than 30 schools across rural and urban Alberta with our team in 2014 and 2015. She shares her story in hopes that others will not have to learn the same lessons that she did the hard way.

  • 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.

Julie Hamilton

Julie lost her son Tim when he was electrocuted while raising a party tent at age 19. Like the Broughton’s, the Hamilton family will never be the same. One of the ways that Julie has learned to cope with her loss is by sharing her story with others. She does this to help other families feel like they are not alone in their loss, but also to remind other young workers to take personal responsibility for their own safety instead of relying on others to know what they are doing or to make your safety a top priority.

Daniel Plexman

Daniel’s life changed forever in just one second when he was severely burned working as an electrical apprentice. Daniel wants others to know how quickly an injury like this can happen and how hard it is for the people who love you to see you in so much pain.

Adele Tait – Investigator of Workplace Fatalities

As an investigator working with Alberta Occupational Health and Safety, Adele has seen terrible tragedies. Here, she shares some of the lessons she has learned from the cases she has investigated.

Before Day’s End

This short documentary was produced by CLAC to show viewers the impact that workplace injuries and fatalities have on real people and their loved ones. The video follows the stories of multiple workers and families who have been impacted by tragedy and how these events changed their lives forever.

You can view more videos 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