Work­place Tragedies

Be­reaved Mom Speaks on How to Stop

National Post (Latest Edition) - - WORKPLACE - Colin El­lis

Twelve years af­ter her son, Micheal, died from a con­struc­tion site fall, Jo­hanna LeRoux still has days when she breaks down sob­bing. “Even now, I can’t be­lieve this truly hap­pened,” says the Bar­rie, On­tario Pro­gram As­sis­tant at Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and mother of three. “Then it hits me — this is real. He’s not com­ing back. I’ll never see him again.” On Jan. 19, 2006, 22-year-old Micheal Fisher fell from the top of a lad­der against the roof of a three-storey house he was work­ing on.Af­ter six days in a coma and sev­eral surg­eries to at­tempt to re­duce swelling in his brain, he went into mul­ti­ple or­gan fail­ure and died as a re­sult of head trauma. Micheal had taken fall prevention train­ing but was not wear­ing re­straint equip­ment when he fell. His safety belt was found atop his tool­box. About 350 Cana­di­ans die each year from on-the-job in­juries. In On­tario, more than 200 crit­i­cal in­juries oc­cur an­nu­ally in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try alone, 23 of which were trau­matic fa­tal­i­ties in 2016. Alarm­ingly, the num­bers are in­creas­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the On­tario Min­istry of Labour,there has also been a re­cent spike in work­place fa­tal­i­ties in­volv­ing falls from heights de­spite new, manda­tory train­ing for work­ing at heights in­tro­duced in 2015. Find­ing so­lace in speak­ing about work­place safety “Work­place safety and in­jury prevention are so im­por­tant in ev­ery­thing you do,” LeRoux notes. “Al­ways wear your per­sonal safety equip­ment. It’s there for a rea­son.” On April 28th, she will hon­our the mem­ory of her son dur­ing the Na­tional Day of Mourn­ing, a com­mem­o­ra­tion of Cana­di­ans who have died, been in­jured, or suf­fered ill­ness in the work­place. She has a mes­sage for work­ers, es­pe­cially younger ones. “Take your train­ing. Don’t be afraid to ask ques­tions. And don’t be afraid to say no to un­safe work con­di­tions.The law pro­tects you.” Today, LeRoux is a work­place safety speaker and vol­un­teers as a fam­ily guide for Threads of Life, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that sup­ports fam­i­lies af­ter a work­place fa­tal­ity, life-al­ter­ing in­jury, or oc­cu­pa­tional disease. She has found so­lace in help­ing oth­ers through tragedy by shar­ing her story.“I’ve put most of my life back to­gether,” LeRoux says, “but there’s still that piece that is bro­ken for­ever.”

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