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Here’s how I intend to continue sharing my passion for safety with you in safe, new and innovative way!
Today is a day to remember. A day to give pause in recognition of so many who lost their lives at work. Those who died making a living. For me, it also signifies, and calls to mind, all of the details of the day that my life as I knew it changed. I was one of the lucky ones who survived what countless others did not – I didn’t return home at the end of the work day, but I did eventually go home.
What could have been my ending, turned out to be a new beginning. For that I am eternally grateful. As I sit quietly this morning – the Day of Mourning – sipping my coffee, I give pause and I think of my own family, knowing that no matter how many years pass, the day that changes your life forever will always feel like yesterday… if you’ll allow yourself to revisit. If you can summon up the strength to go there.
I believe today, it’s important to make that journey, as it is through reflection that we not only remember the past, but we also reset for the future and consider the role we plan to play in making our world a safer place to work. A place where getting hurt or killed at work is in no way part of the job.
While mourning and hope aren’t typically thought to go hand and hand, making time and space for our grief is a continuous part of the coping process – a process that will for many, never end. It is my thought that hope often times defeats helplessness. That taking positive action towards preventing what we failed to do in the past may not lessen the pain, but can offer us purpose.
Today, there are services taking place in communities nationwide to commemorate the Day of Mourning. We can also choose to honour those lives lost by visiting a space within ourselves where we truly think about our actions, and commit to improving on an aspect in our lives that directly relates to safety. We can all do “onethingsafer”.
You may not know it, but you are already wearing the most effective and powerful PPE money can’t buy.
It’s your instinct. You’re born with it. An employer will not hand it over to you, you can’t purchase it at a store, and you don’t need a lesson in learning how to use it. Your instinct is one of the most powerful pieces of PPE you’ll never take off.
Yet sometimes we choose not to use it.
Why is that? Personal protective equipment isn’t about protecting machinery, infrastructure, or profit. It’s about protecting people. And regardless of your work experience or industry, everyone comes to work with this same piece of equipment.
Think about what would happen if we paused when our instinct kicked in. How many times have you said to yourself, “I knew that was going to happen” but only after something, often times unpleasant, unplanned, or unfavorable actually happens? If our gut is sending us strong signals, why do we choose to ignore them – to hit the override button and continue on?
Is it lack of confidence in our ability or judgement? Are we overly optimistic? Or, is the powerful and human condition of believing that the bad things can happen (but just not to us), driving us to ignore the voice that doesn’t make a sound but speaks volumes – our own.
I can’t answer these questions for you, but I can suggest that you ask them of yourself. And here’s what might happen if you developed a closer relationship to your instincts; the more you listen to them, the harder they become to ignore. The harder they become to ignore, the more helpful they become to you. Your instincts can keep you safe.
As champions for safety, our role is to listen to our own instincts and to respect the instincts of those around us. Let’s try trusting our instincts as #onethingsafer.
For many of us, including me, Labour Day signals the final days of our short but sweet Canadian summer. While safety doesn’t slow down for summer, I certainly did this year! After a relaxing break at the cottage, I am recharged and ready to rock – returning to life on the road, with several exciting events planned from Montreal to Melbourne and many stops in between.
As we make our plans and prepare to enjoy our last long weekend of the season, let’s not forget what we are celebrating. Labour Day came to be as a day designated for workers, giving them the chance to campaign for better working conditions – including safer working conditions.
Workplaces are becoming healthier and safer, more inclusive and increasingly aware of the importance of returning the workers they have borrowed from their families home to them safely.
Thanks to the members of the Toronto Trade Assembly who organized Canada’s first significant demonstration for workers rights in 1872, we not only have a have a reason to celebrate, we also have the right to return to a safe and healthy workplace. Hip Hip Hooray!
I will be returning to work, and to the inagural TImmins Health and Safety Conference hosted by Workplace Safety North! https://www.workplacesafetynorth.ca
Check out my radio interview with with more on me and the conference at CBC Up North
Some women wear their hearts on their sleeve. I wear mine on my leg.
I’m 39 now, but when I was 21 I took a step that would change my life forever. At my summer job at a paper mill, I put my foot on top of an unguarded conveyer belt. It would be the last step I would take with my left foot before the machinery mangled it. My leg had to be amputated below the knee.
My heart was broken. I was no longer the girl spending time contemplating what shoes to wear or skipping out the door in the morning after eating my dad’s banana pancakes. Instead I was trying to choose a suitable foot to replace the one I had lost.
I came as close as one could by way of a English gentleman called David. His eye would craft the look of my first custom designed high heeled limb. His hands would shape it. Though our time together was brief, his affection for me I would wear for the rest of my life by way of a tiny heart, disguised as a freckle on my left ankle.
I had my heart back. Rather than wasting my time looking for love in all the wrong places, I looked within. It wasn’t always easy. Ever since the incident, when looking in the mirror, what was missing was all I had been able to see. But I also came to see that what happened to me was not a “freak accident.”
Every day Canadians—young Canadians in particular—are losing lives and limbs at work. In 2015, the most recent year for official statistics,there were 852 workplace-related fatalities in Canada, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety. Among those dead were 15 workers under age 24.
I deliberately don’t use the phrase “workplace accidents” because that implies these deaths could not have been prevented. Injuries in the workplace are preventable. So if we want to change our culture, we need to change our language and our approach. If we are going to eradicate these injuries in the workplace—and that is an achievable goal—companies and individuals need to accept responsibility.
I am not a not a workplace health and safety specialist. I’m a person who got hurt, one of many. My role is not to speak about rules and regulations – but to appeal to the hearts and minds of the workforce to make safety personal and never optional. Put another way: if you don’t truly understand how a workplace injury could affect your life, no amount of training will matter.
And I want to reach the employers too. I see mandates and missions boasting “Zero Injuries” as the only acceptable goal for corporate Canada.
Just this week I learned about a 33-year old man in New Brunswick who lost his life this month from a fall on a construction site, a fall that could have been prevented.
Once again, my heart is broken. I know his mother’s phone will ring—just as my mother’s did on August 11, 1999. This mother will not be nearly as lucky as mine was. Her son is not coming home.
As another Valentine’s Day approaches, I’ve had enough relationships and time to reflect on the meaning of love — and loss. My love letter to Canadian workers is a short one: No one goes to work alone and no one gets hurt alone. One of the best ways to show you care to the people you love is to come home safe. Trust me when I tell you, when you take a risk it’s not just your risk to take.
People say that when you do what you love, it isn’t work. But it takes a lot of heart to do this work. Thank heavens I have a spare one on my ankle.
Well hello again, and a happy October to you all!
Just a few short weeks ago I was boarding the one of four flights that would add up to a record breaking (at least for me) 32 hours of transit, en route to Australia to offer the International Keynote for one of the largest safety conferences in the country – Safety in Action. Yeah for me!
About halfway through the journey I began to think of the distance people will go to rally for a cause they are truly passionate about. I thought about all of the people in the world hopping on one plane and off another. The people you enjoy a glass of something or other with while you wait for the next flight after yet another missed connection. So often these days we stick to the facts, the requirements of what it is we have to do, and what it is we should do. We greet our seat mate after praying that we won’t get one (be honest – you do it), sightlessly determine who gets the arm rest, perhaps recommend a film or enquire as to whether or not the departure city is where they are from, but most often – that is where we leave it.
Everyone has a story to tell…
I get it, I don’t want to be engaged, emotional and thrust to action on every flight I’m on – however I’ve become acutely aware that everyone who is along for the ride has a story to tell – that may not be the purpose of their voyage – to share a story – but often times in some way or another… it is.
Why? Why do people travel for miles and days to tell a story? Why do people travel for miles and days to hear one? I fired up the google machine and did a little research. You know I am all about the “good vibes” – but sometimes society demands facts, they want proof. Science.
Essentially, what it boils down to is that sharing stories changes lives. Sharing stories can even SAVE lives. Truth.
Maybe this isn’t a shocking or new piece of information to you. In all honestly, I vaguely recall something about the hypothalamus and the things it could do from my undergrad (psychology major), so I should have honed in on this connection ages ago… I digress.
You see our brain produces this thing call oxytocin – in the past is was referred to as the “love hormone” but has since been dubbed the “moral molecule”. Yes, look it up!
Oxytocin is produced when we are trusted, when we share a personal story with one person or a group of people we are telling them that we trust them.
Oxytocin is the neurochemical responsible for empathy and what we know is that it makes us more sensitive to social cues, and social cues are what motivate us to engage and help others, particularly if help is needed.
Empathy does not stop affecting us just yet! Nope – it also allows us to understand how others are likely to react to a situation, including people we work with!
You can imagine how delightful this information must be to the gal who globe-trots with a suitcase full of spare legs, often removing them during speeches while revving up audiences to “SEE SOMETHING… and SAY SOMETHING”!!!!
What this means is that if I’ve done my job well – meaning transported my audience through my story – the result is that we create a whole room of people who are feeling empathy, releasing oxytocin and are SCIENTIFICALLY motivated and engaged in being more aware of their co-worker and whether or not they may need guidance, help, or even a hug. We’ve got people who have a more acute understanding of how to go about “saying something” after what they’ve seen as they are now naturally more able to understand the reaction they will receive…
What we’ve got here folks, are people who are building up with the courage to care – to do one thing, or say one thing, that might change a life, or even save one.