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From the Mines to the Heart: Advocating for Safer Tomorrows with Helen Fitzroy

From the Mines to the Heart: Advocating for Safer Tomorrows



As the holiday season reminds us of what truly matters, we are honored to feature Helen Fitzroy on The Safety Guru as she shares her moving message that will carry us through the holidays and beyond. Her husband, Steve, experienced a workplace fatality in an underground mining incident in 1991. Her story isn’t just one of personal tragedy but a call to action for all of us. Tune in as Helen advocates for a safer tomorrow with her unwavering commitment to safety, dedicated to ensuring that no other family has to endure what she went through.


Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost, for the C-suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized ops and safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi, and welcome to The Safety Guru. Today, I’m very excited to have you with me Helen Fitzroy. She’s a safety advocate, an author, and a writer, as well as a miners’ widow. I’m really happy to have you join us, Helen. You’ve got an incredible story to share regarding the positive contribution you’ve made to safety. But I think maybe let’s start first with Steve’s story.

Thanks very much, Eric, and thanks for having me on the show. Thirty-two years ago, my husband, Steve, went to work underground. He didn’t come home. I was left with three little kids under the age of seven and basically stuck with a new title, Widow, which didn’t impress me very much. Then the whole journey began of how do I traverse this? A couple of years before Steve’s death, one of his really good mates, who was also a very experienced miner who worked at the same mine, refused to go to work on this particular shift because the particular supervisor had asked him to work under unsupported ground, and he refused to. They sent a young, inexperienced 21-year-old in there, and tragically, he was killed. Just five months before Steve’s death, another very good mate of his, who was also an experienced minor working at the same mine, fell down a ladderway underground and was seriously injured. He had compound fractures in both of his legs, along with some external injuries. He had to get elected out to Perth by the flying doctor, had two little kids under the age of three, and so he spent 12 months up in Perth having intensive rehab.

Wow. Leading up to all of that, there were some concerns, and Steve used to often come home and talk to me about his concerns. I suggested, how about we take a couple of weeks off, and we can go up to Perth to see how your mate’s going? We did. We shot off to Perth, had a couple of weeks, and caught up with his mate. He was back at work a week, exactly a week when he was killed. That’s when it all started.

He was raising concerns with you. He saw those trends, and I think this is the part in often cases like that. There are signal signs. How was the organization receiving this feedback? Because they’ve had a fatality, serious injuries, a very short period of time.

It’s probably worth also mentioning that he was considered—and we’re talking we were living in a mining town. It wasn’t a very big mining town. There was a whole… In the gold fields, there are a whole lot of little mining towns that probably had a population of 34,000 people max. He was considered in that particular mining town, probably the most experienced, the best, and the most safety-conscious minor. He consistently would come home and say to me because he would go and voice his concerns to the management, and they would say to him, What’s the matter, Fitzy? Aren’t you earning enough? They basically just deride him. There was no… It was a joke. That was frustrating. My advocacy is really based on if there’d been somebody out there that was going to stand up and assert themselves and tell people a story about this is what can happen. Perhaps you might have had a second thought about actually not going there anymore, going somewhere else. The thing is, in terms of when you asked me about management and what their views were, I was talking to a mine inspector a few years later. He had come out from South Africa, and he’d worked in the adjoining town to where we were, about 40 minutes down the road, another little mining town about the same size.

He said that when he arrived there, and he had extensive experience in South Africa, even though he was an English guy, he said that the company, which was the same company that was managing the mine that Steve worked in, would budget for seven fatalities a year. Seven? Just there, seven. My goodness. He said they generally achieved their target. That’s horrible. I know back then; fatalities were just a normal part of business doing business. It’s cheaper, really, to kill somebody at work than it is to permanently disable them because you know what you’re dealing with. It’s cut and dried. Whereas a permanent disability it could be, well, how long is this going to go on for what other… There’s that uncertainty about what the cost may end up being. Yeah, that was the culture then.

One of the things you advocate about safety is to remember the people we come home for. Tell me a little bit more about some of the messages you share.

Well, since Steve’s death in Australia, there’s been 506 more fatalities. 506 fatalities in mining. That’s 471 kids who’ve lost their dad, 100 widows. Now, that doesn’t take into account the parents, the siblings, the mates. It also doesn’t take into account those who’ve lost their lives through a work-related illness or disease. I think when I’ve looked at the stats for Canada, you’re not far behind. I think I tallied, and it may not be totally correct because I don’t have all the stats, but I think it was about 478 in the same time frame in Canada. That’s disgusting. After Steve’s death, it was probably around about ten years later when I first started traveling out to sites, talking to people. I was inundated with all of these phone calls and messages. On average data, I was getting about six a week, people asking questions. How long will that report take? How do I find this out? From families and workers. I started to make contact with agencies to say, well, what do you offer? How can you help? I can see the data and the pamphlets you’ve written and things, but they’re all doubling up, or the information is wrong.

I met with a lot of the regulatory bodies and agencies to try and encourage them to establish a support network for families following a situation like this. They didn’t think it was necessary, so I did it myself in the end, and I left a not-for-profit with the backing of a fairly big mining company here, BHP, with their support. But my conditions were that it had to be totally independent of any particular company, political party, or union. It couldn’t have any vested interests. That was established in 2010, and it’s still going strong. Yeah, it’s still going strong. I’m not as involved as I once was anymore. They’re doing fine without me. Yeah, it’s good to know that there’s now somewhere people can go to seek assistance. It might be financial, it might be just emotional, it might be a whole range of things, practical assistance to help them through that process because there was nothing when Steve was killed.

Absolutely nothing. The company didn’t step up either on that.

No, they didn’t. That wasn’t unusual back then. I know that even my husband was a member of the local union. They were disinformed as well. Everybody’s performance was inadequate. I think things have come a long way since then, though, and I think they’re a lot more tuned in now that people expect more. Yeah, we had to bundle our way through. I had to find my way through by myself, really.

In an environment where they were budgeting seven fatalities, it was.

A process. It was something that I accepted. That’s horrible.

Then to put up with the legal, five-year legal battle, where there was just—and I’m not just blaming the company, I’m talking about the insurers and the lawyers and just constantly delaying and ridiculous ploys that they would use to try and deter. Go away. Just go away, will you? I was determined not to do that. I was determined to stick to it. I felt I owed Steve that to get to the bottom of it, and eventually, I did. But it was a long battle, and that still happens today. I’m still in touch with many families who are still going through that process. It’s a struggle.

You share the message with the people that you speak to, but you also have a message for leaders.

Yeah, I do.

Tell me a little bit about your message for leaders in this case.

Well, I understand I appreciate, as a leader, that there’s a lot of significant data that crosses their desk on a daily basis, whether it’s budget issues, whether it’s related to production targets, whether it’s related to deadlines and staffing. I accept the significance and importance of all that information. But the point that I’d like to make is that in acknowledging the importance of all of that for a viable business, that has to happen. But behind every single decision that they’re making, whatever it may be, there’s generally a human being attached that may or may not be impacted in a negative way by that information. I would implore them all to consider carefully every decision that they make to ensure that there aren’t going to be any unforeseen circumstances. it won’t be them, but somebody else might be impacted negatively by the decision that they make.

What does that translate? Ultimately, I agree it’s understanding that there’s a person behind the paper, the decision. The further away you are from the decision-making, from the sight, from the work, the easier it is to separate yourself and your actions. In an event, it becomes very easy to disassociate yourself because you don’t want to have to carry the responsibility. You push that burden to somebody else.

Absolutely. You’ve nailed it because that’s exactly what happens. If you’re sitting in an ivory chair in the middle of the CPD somewhere and you’re making decisions and you’re looking at that promotion that may come next month, if you produce the goods, of course, the pressure is going to be on there for you to perform and to do things that perhaps it might be impressive at a board level, but at the front line, at the coal face, there could be somebody who’s going to be impacted by that decision that you haven’t considered. I suppose it’s just about being a little bit more aware of how that decision that you make while you’re sitting in the comfort of your cushy office might impact somebody down the track. It may not always be that easy to determine, particularly when you’re looking at production targets and things like that, where workers are often rewarded if they reach particular targets. They’re given bonuses and things. What happens? If you’re going to encourage a bonus mentality, you’re going to encourage people to take risks. You’re going to encourage them to do maybe things that they otherwise wouldn’t. Those sorts of cultural norms, I think, can create issues as well.

Absolutely. When you mentioned this, I had a guest on the podcast a few months back, and he talked about one: the complexity and safety is when you save a penny on every dollar, it probably won’t have a financial… It will have a financial consequence but probably won’t have a safety impact.

But, that second penny, probably not. Then there’s a temptation of just, Well, what about the third, the fourth, the fifth penny? But at some point, something breaks, and you never really know which penny it was, but It’s really understanding the chain of causality. Also, the element he brought up was that the closer you are, and you have proximity to the site to the people that are working, the more you’re making better decisions, the more you’re disconnected, staying in an Ivy tower, no pictures of the team members that are doing the work, never been there, it becomes a transactional balance sheet decision.

Yeah. I think also with that comes an added… It can be quite problematic for contractors. You can have the client and engage contractors to come in and do a lot of the work for them. Most of the time, when they do that, it is the coal-faced, front-line, hard stuff that they’re doing. They have to ensure that they meet their budget constraints. They also have to make sure because they want the tender. They want the next tender as well. The pressure is always on them, probably more so than the client’s employees, to perform and produce the goods because otherwise, there’ll be no tender.

This episode of The Safety Guru Podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting. The leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance or introduce human performance capabilities. Re-energize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions. Propulo has you covered. Visit us at

We talked about the paper. Every paper matters. You touched on before that items were raised. There were signs. Organizations need to be looking for those signs or symptoms and not say, squeaky wheel, but trying to understand. Sometimes, you may have somebody who is a squeaky wheel who complains about everything. Oh, yeah, they’re at the – But how do I really see those? But there are a lot of others that are not complaining, and that surface an issue. Or even the person who complains, there will sometimes be some real legitimate pieces. How can people help triage through all of this to take action? Because this was clearly a case where there were enough signs and symptoms to say actions were needed.

Well, I think it comes back to good communication and leadership. Good communication and leadership means trust and respect. In the hundreds of sites I’ve been to over the years, I could virtually walk into a muster room where they’re doing their training or be in there and watch the crews walk in and predict who the good leaders are just by the body language of the crew as they walk in. That says a lot to me. It’s played out numerous times where you can just tell by the way the guys are communicating with one another, the way they’re walking, the way they’re… You can read the play. I think if we have good, supportive, respectful leaders who can communicate with every crew member, no matter what their little idiosyncrasies are, then you’re going to have the morale is going to be good. If morale is good, you’re going to be productive and safe. To me, it all comes down to selecting carefully the leaders that you choose. Look, leadership starts at the top. They say, Fish stinks from the head down. If you haven’t got a supportive leadership team at the top, you’re never going to get it at the.

Ground level. But even if you have a supportive leadership team at the top, it doesn’t always translate to the ground level because it has to be embedded in the selection process. It has got to be that if I find that you’re not showing up this way, I do something about it, and I act on it fast because we have that dialog on a regular basis in terms of who is a good safety leader, that I act on it.

Yeah, and you’re dead right. I’ve been to numerous sites that have been run by the same company, and the culture is different for everyone. It’s not just the top team. It comes down to who’s running the show here and what attitude they have towards safety, and to our workers, and the morale of our team. What do they rate as significant to our guys on site? It was really mind-boggling to me that I could go to five different sites, all run by the same company, yet the safety culture was different at every one of them.

I think it’s an important point you bring up because I often advocate that, yes, you may have one culture, but there can be a lot of subcultures that exist. Not wrapping your head around these subcultures can be really a blind spot. Because you may be 90% good, but you may have a bad side. I remember I had a couple of years back, somebody on this podcast who worked for an organization he acknowledged had a very positive safety culture. But he raised an issue. In his small location, which was a very small, remote rural area, it was a utility. When he raised a concern, which later proved to be a serious injury that happened, he was told both by the union leader and the local management, are you a man or a mouse? In other words, go do the thing, don’t complain, and literally, shortly thereafter, get seriously injured. The organization as a whole was good, but obviously, there were pockets of leadership in the union and management that shouldn’t have been there. I think where you’re bringing up is really this element of you got to know, and you got to act on those differences.

That’s hard. It’s one of those things that you’re probably getting inevitable that you’re going to get those pockets everywhere. There’s some that just slip through the hoop, and they’re out there, and they’re macho men who… I’ve seen them. I know they’re out there. You’d just like to think there’s someone a little bit higher than them. It’s going to pull them into gear every now and again. But it’s a sad reality.

I know when we first connected, you touched on a theme that is very near and dear to me, which is the difference between safety as a core value versus safety as a priority. There is a clear difference. Some speak of it as a priority. Some talk about it as a value. Tell me a little bit about what that means and the importance of that.

Well, it started to evolve way back when I first started traveling out to the site, and it didn’t seem to matter, particularly, I think, in the first couple of years. I went to every jurisdiction in Australia. It didn’t seem to matter where I went. In that first couple of years, somebody, usually within the management team or supervisor, would come up to me in conversation and say something along the lines of, we make safety our number one priority here. Now, with all due respect, and this is just my personal opinion, that’s just bullshit. Priorities always get shifted. If you make something a priority, you’ve given it a shelf life in my eyes. It can only be a priority until something more important comes along. That’s the nature of the world we now live in. That’s why it has to be a value. It has to be embedded, endemic, and intrinsic to every single thing that you do. You can’t just pick it off and on when you’ve got time, or when someone’s watching, or when you’ve got the resources. You take it home with you. It’s all the things in your life that you value. I think we need to encourage from the top down because we want to ensure that we have a genuine, consistent commitment from every single leader in the organization to ensure every single person on that site goes home safely.

Actions speak louder than words.

But I think it links back to what you shared before is if people are raising concerns, raising issues, if it’s a value and it’s really understood like that, then people wouldn’t close their eyes to it, neglect it, it’d be really core to understand it.

That’s right. That’s right. The quote that I came up with after that little encounter, after numerous encounters, was if safety were a core value in my workplace, there’d be no need to prioritize it. You can hear people say over and over and over again. I still hear it when I go out to the sights. Look, safety is our number one priority here. Well, look, I know you probably mean well, but just rethink that, will you? Because you have to be realistic, and you’ve got to do it a different way. It can’t be priorities inevitably get shifted, and so I’d prefer that they rephrase that.

But I think the consequences are much more than rephrasing. It’s also how people show up. Because I’ve seen it in organizations where it’s the number one priority, and then they have the strategic imperatives for the next five years, and safety is not on the chart, and then somebody raises their hands, say, shouldn’t safety be there? They’re like, Oh, right. Because it’s not a dialog at the C-suite, it’s not a value. It’s not something that people are evaluated on. It’s not reinforced day in and day out, and so it gets forgotten.

You’re right. One of the really interesting things that I’ve discovered over the years is I’ve noticed on the media online that when there’s a fatality, the company might come out. They’ll report that there’s been an incident, and tragically, somebody’s life has been taken, and we’re supporting the family, and we’re doing this. We’re supporting our colleagues, and whatever, then the last sentence will usually be the daily share price. Now to me, I have real issues with that being in the same article. Now, whether that’s the fault of the journalist who’s throwing it together or whatever, it seems to be a consistent pattern that I find quite offensive that you’re talking about the welfare of somebody who’s gone through a tragic experience or the loss of life, and then at the bottom, you’ve got the share price. The two don’t go together, in my view, and never will. Right.

The last topic I’d like to touch on is boom versus bust. Mining is probably more extreme than a lot of other industries. What’s the impact of boom versus bust in mining and safety?

Well, I guess back in the mid-2000s here in Australia, and I don’t know whether this was a global thing, but definitely in Australia, there was a boom. Every company is scrambling for more employees. They want to get that stuff out of the ground as quickly as possible. It got to the stage where they were employing people. One supervisor that I spoke to out on the side in the goldfield said to me, Basically, all you need to get a job in the mines now is you need to be standing vertically and breathing. That was how it was. He said that he had had a busload of young guys that he picked up from the airport, and one of them, he said, What’s your job? What are you coming out here to do? He said, oh, I’m going to drive a truck. This is an underground mine. Have you ever driven a truck? Have you ever been underground? He said, How the hell do I manage and supervise these young guys? That was the circumstance in the boom, and I saw it firsthand. Then, around 2015, there was a downturn. Actually, throughout that mid-2,000 boom period, in five years, we had 101 fatalities in the industry.

That indicates to me if you look at a graph, you can see the spike. Then back, moving on a decade, 2015, there was a downturn and people getting laid off. Other employees were expected to wear two and do the same job. The pressure was on in terms of we still need to get this stuff out of the ground, but we’re going to have to do it more economically without as many people. Then you start getting people taking shortcuts, people are their morale was low. The same old pattern comes back again, increasing incidents and increasing fatalities as well. It’d be just really nice if they could find an even keel instead of… But I don’t think that’s how the industry works.

It’s hard because there are definitely peaks and valleys, and mining is probably one of those top peaks and valleys industries. Definitely, yeah. The element, though, I have definitely seen in mining where in valleys where the economy is not strong, sites get shut down, and locations get shut down. I’ve seen it where the narrative started changing that safety is not physical safety but it’s putting food on my family’s table. That becomes very dangerous because they associate the mines that weren’t as successful and that were shut down were maybe safer minds but less productive minds. Then they start rewiring that safety actually gets in the way of my personal safety, which is putting food on my family’s table. That becomes very dangerous. But I’ve also seen other organizations that were… Kola was an example where there was an end date, either a mine site or a generation site. Things continued very well because the leader was really focusing until the last day; we will be safe. Part of it is also the choice of knowing that even if we won’t be here forever, how do I lead in that context?

Yeah, that’s right. That comes back to leadership and the culture that they established and set, and that everybody feels comfortable to have buy-in. Because if you don’t get buy-in from the employees that are there on-site, you can Sprout what you like. But if they don’t feel that they can trust or believe what you’re saying, that’s where actions speak louder than words. If you’re demonstrating that that’s your commitment, then you will get by. I think too often, the guys on site roll their eyes, and here we go again. That tells you a lot about the culture that’s established there. I think what you were demonstrating by your example is what every company should aspire to.

There are ways to hire maybe in advance of a boom—you can’t perfectly time it—but you’re not desperate at the last minute to take anybody. There are ways to recruit higher-quality talent. There are ways to invest in better training if you know there are going to be gaps because of who you’re able to get. There are mitigations to a lot of these elements, but it’s just being aware of it and recognizing it because, in both cases, it can have very negative effects.

Yeah, for sure. The other issue, too, is that if you’re putting… I refer back to the boom here in the mid-2000s, where you could walk off the street and get a job. A lot of these were young kids, really, late teens, early 20s who, Yeah, I want to get in there. I want to get some good, serious money. I want to. But if something happens to them, there’s no return other than for the families. Mom and Dad at home. They can’t sue the company. You can have a common law claim, but there’s no payment made to families or whatever unless you’re a dependent. For young, single guys who don’t have any dependents, which most of them don’t, there’s no comeback. There’s no comeback. It’s advantageous to employ young, single guys or girls because there’s no litigation forthcoming other than from the regulator, who might decide that your practices weren’t any good. But as far as the loved ones, nothing. There have been numerous examples of families that I’ve spoken to. One instance was a family from Brooklyn Hill, and the dad worked 30 years in the mines underground, and his son was killed in WA.

The company were fined $50,000. Now, this is a big Australian company that everybody globally has heard of. They were disgusted and really totally offended that their son’s life was worth $50,000. Now, they didn’t get that money. That just went into the coffers for the state regulator. But it’s an insult to think that with all of these issues that were found to be so inadequate, where he was working, that they were fined $50,000. There are numerous similar stories to that. Every life is valuable.

Absolutely. Ellen, thank you so much for joining me on the show today. Thank you for your advocacy for safety, but also for the families of those that lose a loved one. If somebody wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?

Well, they can email me. I have a website too, so either email me or go to my website and send me a message going to be great. Excellent. Thank you so much, Helen.

Thank you. Cheers. Take care. Bye.

Thank you. Bye.

Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-suite radio. Leave a legacy. Distinguish yourself from the path. Grow your success. Capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.

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Helen Fitzroy’s passion for workplace safety commenced following the death of her husband, Steve, in an underground mining accident in Norseman, WA, in 1991. The accident left Helena a widow in her early thirties with three young children to raise. At the time of Steve’s death, mining fatalities were largely ‘normalized’ by companies and government regulators. The deaths were considered an inherent risk of the industry, with virtually no support offered to families to enable them to move forward with their lives.

One of Helen’s coping strategies was writing. She wrote to her husband, Steve, but also to herself and her children leading to the publishing of her first book some years later, “Just a Number.”

“Just a Number” outlines her family’s journey in the five years following Steve’s death, as they traversed the quagmire of emotional, legal, and bureaucratic processes that constitute life for a bereaved family following a workplace death.

Since writing “Just a Number,” Helen has been traveling extensively across Australia as well as overseas campaigning for improved safety and better support for bereaved families. She also delivers safety-focused presentations to companies across all sectors, highlighting the importance of both parties’ commitment to safety at work.

Helen’s commitment and passion culminated in the establishment of Miners’ Promise in 2010. Miners’ Promise is a not-for-profit organization established to provide emotional and practical support to members and their families following a crisis event such as a death, illness, or serious accident.

Helen served as a Director on the Miners’ Promise Board for several years, including a number of years as Chairperson. A qualified grief counselor, Helen continues close association with the organization providing family support advisory services to members.

Helen is a recipient of a WA Local Hero of the Year Award, a category of the Australian of the Year awards. She continues to speak prolifically to corporations across all industry sectors and provides ongoing grief counseling to families coping with the loss of a loved one.

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Waking Up to the Dangers of Shortcuts: Powering Up Personal Accountability and Safety Ownership with Theo Venter

Waking Up to the Dangers of Shortcuts: Powering Up Personal Accountability and Safety Ownership



“It’s the buy-in. All the safety systems are there, but they are worth nothing without the buy-in.” Theo Venter, the only known survivor of a 22,000-volt electric shock, joins the podcast this week to share his powerful story and eye-opening message highlighting the inevitable dangers of shortcuts in the workplace. Tune in as Theo describes the psychological aspects that contribute to serious injuries and fatalities and unpacks actionable strategies for mitigating risk and powering up personal accountability and safety ownership in the workplace.


Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-Suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski. A globally recognized ops and safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy’s success story begins now.

Hi, and welcome to The Safety Guru. Today I’m very excited to have with me Theo Venter, who is an incredible inspirational speaker, but also one of the only people to have ever survived going through 22,000 volts through the heart and 1,200 amp. Unbelievable. Theo, welcome to the show. Glad you’re here. Why don’t we start with your story?

I am even more glad I’m here with you after hearing that what you just said. Sometimes when people say that it just is a different energy when I listen to it and I go, wow, I’m still standing here. Thanks for having me, Eric. Absolutely. I’ll just jump in if that’s okay. I’ll start a little bit further back. Born and raised, you might pick up a slight little accent in my voice, and I know it’s going to be hard to pick up, but it is from South Africa, the Spring rock country. Born and raised over there and then got opportunity to go to Australia and go and practice my trade, which was working on overhead power lines. I guess after about 10 years of working in the same industry, there was this specialized group that came in and they could work on live electrical power lines. So, you put these specialized big gloves and stuff on, and you put them on, and you can work actually on live power lines. So, I was very interested, went for the course and passed it. And then when I came to Australia, that was what brought me over because it was such a specialized trade. I was only here for six months when I set in my ways. My family came over for the last three months and we were now just settling into Australia. And it was a Monday morning. I woke up in the morning and it was just another day to me. I knew exactly what was going on. What was my whole week, what was it going to be? So, I got into my mood, and I jumped in, and I went to work and got to work. And the manager said to me, hey, Theo, he said to me something very strange that morning. He said, look, you got to go fix up this power pole outside of your normal work scope. And he said, I’m calling you in because you are the guy that gets the job done. He says, this is a really… There was an electrical storm. There was a lightning strike over the weekend. The pole got damaged. And he said, this thing is really badly damaged. So, I turned around Eric and I had this little ego boost, pep my stick.

And I said to, we have a three-man crew, I said to my boys, let’s go change the stuff on the truck and the Ute and get some other safety stuff on. And off we go to the Spell poll. And I remember doing a risk assessment that morning without my other two boys in there at the poll, and tick and flick boxes. You’re just a quick tick and flick and you’ve put a few things down. And I didn’t really, really, I wasn’t invested in that. And when the boys came in, we set up and started working on this pole. And my best mate, very good mate of mine, his name is Niko. He was in front of me. He started working on these live wires. And about half an hour in, he got really frustrated. And he said to me, he said, I can’t get this nut off this little 12-millimeter nut. I don’t know if you guys call it three quarter.


And I said to him, look, you must be tied. Let me have a go at it. And as soon as I stood right in front of this, and I’ve got to describe it. We’re standing 11 meters in the air. There’s a big steel cross arm in front of me. There are three insulators, which carries the three phases. And I remember, I couldn’t see where this nut sits, and I couldn’t feel it because of the gloves. And I knew that I’m the guy that gets the job done.

Right. You had heard that just before.

Because that just boosted my ego with this thing. And you know what it’s like for a young man.

And I guess at that stage, I thought if I could only put my fingers in there and could feel how this nut sits, it will be like a two second thing. I’ll just quickly put my finger in there, feel where it sits, get a socket in, and undo this nut. And I had a quick glance behind me of Niko, my best mate talking to the safety observer downstairs. And he didn’t look at me. And I went and I put my hands between my knees, and I started taking my gloves off. It was such a convenient choice. It was so easy. It was just a convenient choice. And when I put my hands in between my knees to start to take the gloves off, not for a single second did I even consider how many times they told me not to do it.

How many times in a meeting have they told us don’t do it. If it’s unsafe, don’t do it. In that minute, I was so focused on getting this job done that I didn’t think about it. I started pulling my gloves out, and the moment my gloves released out of my hands, I could feel the cold sweat on the wind, chillie wind. That moment, I had this massive gut feel. Have you ever done a bit… It’s just about to do something really stupid and you get this big feeling in your gut that something is going to go wrong? That moment when I got that gut feel, it was such a strong feeling that I paused and I went, oh, that is a real feeling. Then I was standing there for a couple of milliseconds, and I thought, Man, it is so convenient. It’s so easy. It’s right in front of me. I can just get you. Of course. So, you override that gut feeling, and you go in and you took it out. And I put my hands on that nut and everything was fine. I did it. The nut came off in about five seconds.

I was so happy with myself that I was standing back with a bigger smile on my face. And the next minute, the insulator now undone started moving and it was pure instinct. I had my right wrist on the steel cross arm and with the insulator a little bit to my left, I just grabbed it with my left arm, my left hand, and I didn’t know that there was that exposed section of that 22,000-volt line. And that moment I stuck my hand straight into that line, which made me just a little fuse between draining 22,000 volts, 1,200 straight through my heart, straight into the down to Earth.


That moment when that power took hold of me, it was like a truck hitting me at 100 Ks an hour. It just hit me and every muscle in my body, I remember feeling every single millisecond. I knew exactly what was going on, Eric. I was thinking about so many things, but I couldn’t do anything. It was just stuck on there. And I just stuck. And it was about two and a half seconds, which in electrical terms is a long time a lifetime. It’s lifelong. I lost consciousness. My knees gave in. I think my right wrist slipped off that steel cross arm and my lifeless body hit that bottom of that bucket. And that was the end of my life as I knew it. That was my last moments as I knew my life.

So, you went to the hospital. We’re blessed to still have you here. Tell me a little bit about the aftermath, the ripple effects, what transpired. Your family had just arrived three months prior.

Yeah. You see, what electricity in specific does is when you get hooked up, it creates a like a thousand degrees Celsius and it boils your blood inside your body. So, your soft organs, your heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, everything starts to boil up. And because of that, by the time they took me back to hospital, I was lying in that hospital bed, and I remember the last nurse, she was standing around my bed. After they stitched me up and bandaged me up and put all these tubes into my system with antibiotics and painkillers and stuff like that. And just before my wife walked in, she looked at me and she didn’t say much. But she was looking at me. I had eye contact for about 10 seconds, and I just realized that I’m going to die in his bed. I’ll never forget this moment when we’re just looking at each other, not saying a word. And she walked out, and I realized I know I’ve been in this industry; I know that the infection sets in and in a day, maybe, and you will die. And I remember my wife walking just after her. And as we were talking, she’s begging me not to die because we made this agreement that I was going to. And then I could hear my little princess is only five years old. She was outside and she was screaming and begging for her Daddy. And my two boys, I’ve got three kids and they were crying and begging. And I said to the doctors if they could bring my kids in and just give me a last chance because my kids just wanted to hug them and say goodbye. The doctor said I was so bad. I smelled so bad, and I looked so bad that, please don’t let the kids see you like this.

So, I made the decision not to say goodbye to my kids that day, that moment. And that was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. I went into that night. You just count those seconds down and you know what goes through your mind the most is what made me take that shortcut? What made me choice? Why did I do it? Was it worth it? Was it worth taking that nut off? Was it worth putting my life on the line? When do you get so desensitized? What stage in a workplace, work site does you get so desensitized that you don’t even think about those material risks, the things that can kill you? And it just kept on spinning over and over and over in my mind. It was about five days later when they did tests on me and said, Theo, you’re going to make it. And during those five days, the only thing I could think of is knowing I was going to die was if someone could give me just one day with my family, one perfect day, one perfect day. It’s all I wanted, just one perfect day. And now when I stand in front of audiences, I’m asking them, have you ever thought of your own specific, personal perfect day?

What would it look like? Who were you enough with? Where would you go? Sure. They started surgeries. They removed all the dead tissue and tendons out of my arms that was dead because of gangrene. I went through 17 surgeries in the first just over a month. Every second day I had a surgery. They wanted to amputate my arms; they could save them. And then I was in hospital for quite a few months when I left. But then when I went home, it became worse because I went in there and my friends didn’t recognize me. I was now estranged from my wife. I was away from… The pressures on a relationship was just sky rocketing. I was in a dark room sitting there the whole time with severe pain. I had to depend on everyone to feed me. My hands didn’t work at all to help me wash, to wipe my bum, to do all these things. And I think about a few months in, depression kicked in and severe depression and anxiety. And it wasn’t long after that when my suicide thoughts were very real. That was the darkest ever. I’ve seen life in my life before. It was the darkest times.

I have to ask you, you know doing work around electricity, around high voltage, gloves are what blocks you from direct contact with the ground, becoming… Taking the energy down to the ground. You’re supposed to test your rubber gloves, in most cases every day, to make sure that there’s no fault, no challenge with the rubber gloves. Have you ever done anything like this before?

That is such a great question, Eric. Those gloves that you’re talking about, and it sounds like you know exactly what it was because those gloves are sacred to everyone. You take those gloves and you put them in a very soft pouch, and you do a pin test every day and you make sure that those… Because that’s the only thing that keeps you away from the beast. To answer your question, I want to go back one week before my incident. Just one week.


The Wednesday before my incident, we were standing. There was about eight of us, nine, 10 of us on a site. There was a power pole very similar to the one I was on. And there were two guys working up on this pole in an EWP in a bucket on a live line. And there was about six of us on the ground level. And it was about, I think, two, three hours in, maybe 10 o’clock in the morning when I was standing back from this pole to see how the guys going up there. And the one guy, as I looked up, the one guy didn’t have his gloves on. And I screamed. I screamed. I blew the whistle. I said, whoa, mate, you forgot your gloves. You haven’t got your gloves on. Because that was the cardinal sin. It’s like, you don’t do that. You forgot about it. The guy turned around and he looked at me downstairs and he laughed at me, and he said to me two things which I’ll never forget. He said, Theo, don’t ever tell anyone what you just seen and don’t ever try it yourself. This guy took his gloves off to do some work around the live power line.

Never seen it, never done it. Cardinal sin. No one should be doing this, right? Right. Two days later, I’m sitting in a safety meeting, the manager comes in and he closes, slams the door, closes. We about 100 of us sitting in a room. He starts the meeting, the safety meeting, off by everyone. He says, This doors are closed. This is a safe space. Everyone, please, could you talk to us about safety out there? Can you talk to us about is there anything that we can do better? Is there anything you want to bring up that people don’t do that safe? And the more he said these things, the more there was these 10 pairs of eyes right in the back of me waiting for Theo Venter to get up and say something because he’s the guy that gets the job done. What did you do? You know what I did?


Nothing. Couldn’t do it. Could not get up and say it. Could not. For some reason, I couldn’t do it. When my accident actually happened was that moment when I walked out of that room that day. I couldn’t bring it up. That’s where my incident happened because that was Friday afternoon, two days later, Monday morning, I was on a power pole standing there not knowing what to do with this thing. Then I remembered this guy last week that took his gloves off and he got the job done. And that is it. That was me. That was the incident right there. In other words, short answer to your question is, I’ve never done it, never seen it. First time I’ve done it. You know what? The guy that took the shortcut last week, must probably done it 30, 40 times. He always got away with it. It’s never the convenient choice. It’s never the shortcut that you take. It’s an unforeseen thing that happens while you’re taking a shortcut. It’s an extra thing that comes into play, that thing that no one knows about. You can get away with those shortcuts, but one day something is going to come up while you’re taking that convenient choice.

Which is what happened then. Something slipped, something moved. Unfortunately.

Yeah. This episode of The Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, re-energize your BBS program, enhance supervisor safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions, Propulo has you covered. Visit us at

So, it gets me to think a little bit about culture. What was the culture like? You talked about you get the job done. So presumably getting the job done is what was celebrated in some way, shape, or form. Others were blatantly cutting corners, at least one other person, on a cardinal rule. If you’re working next to any energized current at that level, you should never touch, not have the right gloves.

What was the culture like?

There was quite a number of things that came into perspective at that stage. There was the fact that because we were so new in Australia, we were still on a bridging visa, which means, you know where this is going, right? So, if you can do your job and you do it well and you can do it for long enough, you stay and you get your permanent residence. I didn’t come here to go back. So, there was a bit of pressure on… And please understand me very well, this is not excuses. These are things that was in place. I own 100 % what I did. 100 % I did. And that will always stay the way. But there was a bit of pressure on getting the job done. And in those days, they said to us in the cultured sense of things is look after your mates. Please go out there and look after your friends next to you, your brothers and sisters right next to you. Make sure everyone is safe. Do you know what I did in that meeting? I was looking after my brother. I was making sure he doesn’t get in trouble.

Yeah, because it’s reconstructing, which I’ve seen too often, what brother’s keeper means to protecting someone as opposed to protecting them from harm.

Yes, thank you. I was protecting my brother’s keeper by not saying anything. We’ve got a broke code out there and you don’t stab your brother in the back and that thing. So that was the culture because we were all in the same boat. We were protecting each other, and we wouldn’t do anything to hurt another guy. So that was, I think, the ground foundations of this culture. What they didn’t tell us at that stage, which after my incident for the last 10 years now, I’ve been searching for the reason why we do these things, regardless of the culture, regardless of whatever, why do we as individuals take these shortcuts? I went into behavioral science, and I went into all kinds of things that came up. Yes, there’s a lot of factors that make sense about all the other sciences, but there was one little thing that really got me in that moment when I just about to take my gloves off. Remember that real feeling in my gut? That really, it was in the back of my mind so long. What was that? I went and studied it. And this is pure biology, and I’d love to share this if that’s okay.

Absolutely. These are the things that just make so much more sense if we can teach our people and our people on our mine sites and our construction sites and these things. This basic concept is that we’ve all got a biology, we’ve all got a new cortex, a frontal cortex brain. It’s called the big brain in the front of your head is the one that calculates, it analyzes the path of least resistance. It speaks language and it understands, and it reads, and it writes, and it does all these things. That’s the part of the brain, if I say, calculates the path of least resistance. In the workplace, the path of least resistance, the easiest way to do, the most convenient way to do something is a shortcut. When we send our people to these work sites in the morning, we give them… They’ve got pre shift meetings and they need to do procedures and there’s swims and there’s all these things. And then they go out in the field, and they calculate all these things. And then they get to a place where they need to use a ladder, or they need to use something else. And this brain is so big and so powerful in front that I have now been working this brain, and I’m now taking the shift instead of the hammer because the hammer is too far and it’s not convenient to go there. And when there’s an incident, what do they do? They come back and they do the risk of the incident investigation, and they come, and they give you more procedures to go and read. So, they make the brain even younger.

There’s a little brain at the back, which they call the limbic brain. Now, this is the most amazing piece of little artwork that we have. And that is the brain that has got emotions and creativity. It deals in all these things. That’s the little part of the brain where safety gets unlocked. That’s where safety sits. When you feel unsafe, it’ll put chemicals into your body and say, watch out, there’s a snake, or whatever it is. That is the part of the brain that sends the signal to your gut. Have you ever heard of these people that needs to make a decision, oh, I don’t know if I need to go to the to use my head or my heart? Those are the two brains. Unfortunately, I don’t want to disappoint most of our listeners, but we don’t have a feeling in our gut. Sorry. That part of the brain sends that signal to your gut because it knows the gut is such a strong overpowering thing. So, when I put my hands between my knees, that little brain sent it in and said, don’t do it, Theo. Don’t do it. But I haven’t trained that brain.

I didn’t have the tool to understand and trust and respect that trust, that gut feel to go and listen to it and stand back and to say to my mate next to me, hey, Niko, does this feel right to you if I do this? I bet you wouldn’t have said no. But because of the frontal cortex is so strong, it will overpower that brain every single time. And if we could give our people out there just that little training every two, three minutes in the morning just to understand and trust that gut feel, that limbic brain, then they’ve got at least a chance of fighting against each other and say, I trust my gut. I will not do it. Last thing I want to say is, do you know how many people I spoke to that I said, have you ever had that feeling just before you get something done that you shouldn’t be doing it? Everyone goes, yes. Then I said, and then you do it anyway. They go, Oh, yes. That’s it. That’s a start anyway. But nearly everybody who’s been on our podcast who shared who’s been injured talks about that gut feel, a reaction just before. Almost unanimously, somebody has this feeling just before, but they still march forward.

That’s the golden nugget, isn’t it? I’ve been giving out little 12-millimeter nuts in every single presentation I have done to every single person. There must be about 250,000 nuts on key rings out there. I call that your gut feel, your why, your reason, your gut feel. At least there’s something they can hold on to sometimes, or they see it on the key ring, and they go, wow, I remember that. I trust my gut. I trust my feelings.

Let’s get to the topic you touched on before, which is getting to a perfect day. When you talk to audiences, you present your story, you get them to think about that perfect day. So, tell me about how you convey that message, because that’s also the decision you want people to reflect on before you take your gloves off, say, Is it really worth it?

Yeah. Eric, there’s six points that I highlight throughout my presentation if we want to get a little bit technical. They are there for a very specific reason, and it doesn’t matter if it’s an electrical industry or ice cream industry or the construction industry or whatever it is. These six points are the things that will take us forward. It’s personal development. Safety is a product of personal development. What we do is we count our mistakes. We count how many incidents and injuries we’ve had last month. And then we go this month, and we say, oh, we screwed up so many times last month, but this month is so much better. Wow. Because we only injured five people. And then next month, oh, we went a little bit worse. Instead of trying to stay away from… The human brain is amazing. Why not think of something good? Why don’t show people what good looks like? Give them something to aspire to. So, what I’ve done to Teams is after my presentation, when they are very much involved in their limbic brain and their feelings and emotions is out there, I will go into a session which I call the mission statement or whatever you want to call it.

It is to ask them as a group, as a team, what is the perfect day for them? And then we’ll write it on the board. They want respect and honesty and openness and all these things. And then I give them a sentence, we create a world in our industry that open and honest and through positive communication and these things. So, I show them what good looks like. I show them their perfect day at work. And then when they get in tomorrow morning and we ask them, is everyone is still aligned to your perfect day? In other words, we picked their value up and aligned it with the company values. Now that value is there. And when you think about something that you want to aspire to, which is good, then it comes naturally that you want to help your friend, your brother’s keeper. Those things just fall into place instead of trying to run away from the bad things and not let bad things happen. If I tell you there’s not a pink elephant behind me, it’s already in your mind. You know what I’m saying? It’s already there. So, if you tell them that that’s what your perfect day looks like, and I’ve done this to so many teams before, the culture which we touched on earlier switches immediately because now we’re looking at something great.

Let’s touch on another topic that you cover as well in your talks around ownership and accountability, which is important theme. You’re talking about your personal ownership in the circumstances, but there’s also the ownership, the accountability of leaders. Tell me a little bit about how you present this theme.

Yes, very important. I tie that into my presentation and my story as what I’ve said earlier is before we left my home country, I made a very stern agreement with my wife and my kids, people I love most in life. And I said to them, I will make sure that this agreement is that we will go over there and live a beautiful life. But I broke my agreement when I took my gloves off. And when I broke that, I had to own it. I remember my dad always said to me, if you can speak the truth in your vulnerability, you are within your power. I could not do anything else but speak the truth to everyone and said I did take my gloves off and I own it and I broke the agreement with the people I love most in life. Now at the end of the presentation, when I say, keep your agreements, that’s one of the six points. When you make an agreement with someone, if it’s a pre shift meeting in the morning or with your life, your kids, personal or work, if you keep that agreement, you become the proudest person in the world because of what you’ve done.

That creates accountability and ownership because you are now accountable for you, and you know why you do it because that’s what you want to keep. You want to keep, and you want to be a proud person in the world. That starts to form an accountability program, which in the morning you go back to, and you go, all right, is everyone still aligned with our perfect day? Can we make an agreement that everyone will go out there and conform to the regulatory authorities? Make sure that everyone is safe out there. And now we aspire to something good, we make the agreement that keeps you accountable for that. And then they will go out and look after each other because we are twisted and turned from going back to something what good looks like. I know it sounds a little harsh and quick right now, but I did write a book about it, me and Ken, so you can go and have a look at the book. It’s much better.

Very important theme. One last question, if I may. You touched on it briefly. You talked about rules, so cause evaluations, we find what happened, we create a new rule. And I agree, rules do need to exist. Rules are important. Safety at the end of the day is about adherence to rules. But you touched on something that’s really important is it’s not just about the rules. Because when you’re alone, and in this particular case, you’re pretty much alone because your friend wasn’t looking at you, so you didn’t really have a peer check. You need to buy in. You knew this was not the right thing to do. That was a cardinal rule that’s ingrained if you’re working next to a 22k V line. What does it take to drive the right choice? Rules are important, but you touched on something that’s really important here.

You just said it. It’s the buying. Our industry out there has now for the last 100 years, less than 100 years, fine-tuned our rules, our procedures, and from government side all the way down, it’s been there, and it will always be there. All the rules, all the systems, all the safety systems are there, but they are worth nothing without the buying. Absolutely nothing. And we need to create buying to these rules to understand and to give the people out there the chance to believe in the systems. Yes, I agree with you. They are important. They need to be there. I 100 % fine. But how do we create the buying? How do we get the guy downstairs, the 18-year-old just getting onto a site, or the guy that’s been there, that’s 40 years old. And I don’t know about your statistics, but the 40- to 45-year-olds in this country is the guys that get injured most because they think they’ve seen it all and then they get complacent and that’s one of these and convenient. So, the buying to these rules is absolutely paramount and we need to find a way how to get our people to buy into it.

I think I’ve broke the code and I know how to do it and I’ve seen, and I’ve proven that it can be done. Once you create the culture that supports the buying and everyone inspires to do something that is out there and that good looks like as a team and some camaraderie and your brother’s keeper, all these things come into play and the whole culture starts to shift. And that’s a beautiful thing to see. I’ve seen it many times before.

There’s somebody who was in the trade who told me once, and I don’t know if it’s true, but he said all the rules when it comes to electricity were written in blood. But if you follow all the rules that exist, there’s no reason to get seriously injured or to die. That basically, we know the universe of what we need to do. It’s just we need to actually consistently do it even when we encounter hookup issues, challenges.

True, true words. 100 % true words.

Yeah, love it. Theo, thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s a very powerful story. I still can’t wrap my head. I’m happy and thrilled that you survived 22 K Vs, 1,200 Amps. It’s surreal. But thank you for being here, for sharing your story. Incredibly powerful message. If somebody wants to get in touch with you, how can they do that?

I am just about to embark on a world tour next year. So, if you want to be part of that world tour, you can find me at So, it’s Theo, my last name is V E N T E You can find me there. I’m on Facebook and Instagram and all those sites and everything else. Also, on LinkedIn at Theo venter, so you can catch me on LinkedIn. Look out for me coming around maybe your area. I will be around the Canadian areas and all the way down. So, looking forward to coming and make a huge impact. If it’s only a presentation, that’s fine. I’ll come and inspire your team to walk away. But I also do a lot of other stuff in between as well. Coachable leadership training and those things.

Excellent. Thank you so much, Theo. Really appreciate you taking the time. I know you’ve got a big day in front of you in the outback, which is going to be considerably colder than summer up here.

Appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

Cheers. Thank you.

Thank you for listening to the Safety Guru on C-Suite Radio. Leave a legacy, distinguish yourself from the pack, grow your success. Capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at execsafetycoach. com. Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.

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Theo Venter is the only known survivor of a 22,000 volt electrical shock through the heart and shares his amazing story with audiences across the globe. When he removed his insulated gloves while working on a damaged transmission pole, he made a decision that would impact himself and his family in ways he couldn’t have imagined.

But why would an experienced liney make what hindsight would tell you was such a poor decision? Theo captures the precise moment he puts his insulated gloves between his knees and removed his hands. He shares his thoughts, his feelings and more importantly his motives leading up to the exact moment of impact. Co-Author of “Get Real: Staying Alive For A Living” and “Convenience Kills”, Theo is a seasoned veteran who will assist your Managers and Leaders and every Member of your team, to truly understand the ‘real’ psychology of incidents—with first-hand experience.

Theo will make you discover something about yourself you didn’t know. About your innate human nature. That although taking risks is normal and inherent in every human being, you could potentially be the next fatality at your workplace. That’s why it’s important to talk about it and bring it out in the open. By allowing Theo to share his story, people are impacted in a way that they are reminded of what can go horribly wrong when they take a shortcut.

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Building a Solid Foundation: Navigating Production Pressure and Prioritizing Safety for New Frontline Workers with Tom Corfield

Building a Solid Foundation: Navigating Production Pressure and Prioritizing Safety for New Frontline Workers



We’re excited to have Tom Corfield join the podcast this week to share his inspiring and heartfelt story of lessons he’s learned in overcoming adversity and prioritizing safety. At the age of 17, Tom was working as an apprentice in construction when he was involved in a workplace incident that left him blind. In this deeply moving episode, he shares the impact the incident had on his loved ones and his mental health. Tom’s message is sure to motivate you to build a safety foundation based on effectively navigating production pressure, leading with vulnerability, and prioritizing safety for frontline workers who are new within an organization. Tune in!


Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-Suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski. A globally recognized ops and safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi, and welcome to The Safety guru. Today I’m very excited to have with me Tom Corfield. Tom is a motivational speaker. He’s here to talk about an incident that happened 15 years ago and some of the effects that it had and some of the roles that leaders have, and particularly he was new into his role at the time. Tom, welcome to the show. Very excited to have you with me.

Hi, Eric. Thank you. Thanks for the offer. It’s been a pleasure. Hope you’re well. Really want to get my story out there and tell you guys all about it.  

Definitely. Why don’t we start there? What happened? You were new in your role, you had recently started. Tell me about what happened. 

I’ve always been interested in brick laying and being a construction worker. I got myself into an apprenticeship in the UK, a bricklaying apprenticeship with a big construction company. I was doing really well in my building. I was getting my level, my sitting guilt. I was progressing and doing really well with the brick laying. But then that was in the college part, and we then got put out onto. I went out onto this site, got on the site and just started. 17-year-old Tom just coming out of school. And it’s a big change. So, from being in school days and then, wow, you’re on this big site with machinery and noises and drills and everything going on around you. That day I got to the site. I always remember the day that happened. It was a wet day and tyrannical rain. It was like walked out and put my boots out and walked out onto the job and it was covered in mud already. But at that day, I was helping some laborers, helping the laborers load out for the brick layers below. And obviously as a starter coming up from the bottom, that’s the first major job you get done given is to help the libraries load out the bricks, the compo, things like that.

So, I was up on a scaffold, and I was carrying blocks. And like I said, I was only 17 years old. I was carrying concrete blocks and I could only carry one. And at this point, I was on the scaffold and the supervisor was working for, I’d seen him, and he shouted up to me, Tom, if you can’t carry two blocks, don’t carry none at all. So, I thought, oh, that’s my supervisor saying that I better stop what I’m doing. So, I asked the lab as I was working with, what do you want me to get him? Because he wants me to carry two blocks and I can’t carry the weight of two blocks if you understand. So, I started filling up the bucket and the compo, which is the wet cement in the big tub and picking it up onto my shoulder in a bucket. And I’m walking along a scaffold and having to come down to a staircase below where there were two group lads waiting for me to pass them their compost. Like I said, it was torrential rain. The rain was getting worse, and we’ve been told by the supervisor that day we would get the job done and we’d be able to have the Friday off.

The Friday was apparently it was a wet day as well, so I said, get the job done today and everyone will have an early day frauded. So, you can imagine the pace has picked up. So, I’m back and forth with these buckets of wet cement. And at the one point, I took it off my shoulder and as I took it off my shoulder, it slipped out my hands. But I’ve automatically gone forward with it. It’s all in one motion. Sure. And the buckets hit flat down on the floor and the splash back has gone straight up into my eyes, my nose, my mouth, everywhere. My whole face was just covered in wet cement. I don’t know if a lot of people know, but the cement is a lime base. So, they add lime to it, which helps it more workable. So, at the point, I’ve been told about lime burns and things like that at college. And all of a sudden, I just screamed out. And the two libraries I was working with, they came, they picked me up and said, come on, we’ve got to get straight to the toilets to wash your face out.

And people didn’t understand the amount of cement that got into my face and into my eyes. I had to wash my eyes out in the sink, and it was that bad. Took me to the side office to use the little oil wash solutions that most companies have in the first aid box. They unfortunately ran out and didn’t have enough to clean my eyes out with. So, my supervisor then picked me up. He took me then to the nearest hospital. We got lost on the way to the hospital. Eventually, got to the hospital for them to tell me that I am probably never going to be able to see again and this was all due to the lime penetrating the eyeballs. And it was just burning the eyes. So, I got to the local eye hospital in Birmingham, and I was then told at 17 years old, you’re probably never going to be able to see again. And the guy what it led up to was having my eyes scraped. They were putting cotton wool buds, long cotton wool sticks and scraping the eyes and trying to get the cement out of my eyes. And this had happened around midday, and they were still scraping cement out of the back of my eyes. Like it’s nine o’clock in the night. Oh, my goodness. My parents, they got the phone call to say that I’d been in an accident at work. My mom’s last day at work for around two years where she was then my career. I was not knowing if I was ever going to see again. And yeah, that’s where my life drastically changed and went to the worst. Depression, suicide, a lot of things changed then because I was a 17-year-old lad who had the freedom to do anything he wanted. He just wanted to be a builder and have his own construction company later on in life to then one day, never knowing if I’m ever going to be able to see again. So, yeah, it messed with my head. I can’t really say words that can explain it, but just lying in a hospital bed, not being able to see a thing and just listening for the noises around you, it was heartbreaking. No kidding. And it was heartbreaking for family and friends to see me in that way.

So, if we go into that day, you’re new in the role, you’re 17 years old, unfortunately, hear that story too often. Somebody who’s new comes on a site, wants to do a good job. Supervisor is sending a message of – “Let’s get it done”, and specifically putting pressure on you, what are some of the things that organizations can do with a new employee that comes in? Because you want it to do well. My guess is you were going above and beyond trying to show I’m doing my best.

You want to show that you’re keen and you want that job. You know what I mean? You want to show people and that supervisor or that manager that you want to work hard for them. And that’s what I was doing. I was trying my hardest to get to keep up with the other l avers because when you’ve got about 10, 15 brick layers in front and who are constantly lying, you’ve got to keep constantly throwing bricks there, blocks there, cement, compost, mix. It’s a stressful time. And coming from a young lad to then straight ship straight onto the building sites like that. And you’ve got supervisors screaming down your head. And it’s a big pressure. It’s a lot of pressure for these young lads. And I’ve met a lot of young apprentices over the years now working on site. And they’re in much change, but people need to realize you’ve got to give these young lads a chance. They might not know everything that’s going on the job and people are expecting them to know a lot. And you can’t just expect someone to come out of school and know what everything they need to do, and I think that’s where a lot of supervisors do push people. And when it’s your supervisor, you’ll think that’s what you should be doing. And that’s how they want everything to be done. And unfortunately for me, that day I was stressed, and I was rushed and.

I was soaking wet, working in wet conditions and it all hit in one. And things I do now, I make sure I take a step back before I get given a task. Step back, take a step back and check your surroundings and things like that. Just look away and look at what you got to do instead of jumping straight into it and then eventually could lead to an accident.

What are the things that a supervisor could do to set the right frame? Because I’m assuming you come to the site, there’s some form of site induction orientation about the risk, the hazards. What are some of the things that leaders and organizations can do to influence driving the right choice? Obviously, the supervisor and how he showed up wasn’t helpful because he was talking about try to shorten the day, you don’t have to work tomorrow, things of that nature. That creates a pressure across everybody to try to move faster. And yes, productivity is important, but that’s where short cuts can happen, and we make mistakes.

This is it. Things like where they told everyone on site that they probably wouldn’t have to come to work tomorrow because of rain. That probably should have been done at the end of the day. So, people didn’t rush to get the job done and think, I’m getting a day off tomorrow thing. It could have been the super bowl. I could have left that till get the job done and then tell the lads they wouldn’t have to come in tomorrow. It would have been a lot better for people to hear that. But just in general, just really just to have more induction and start. When people come onto the sites, it’s probably a best thing to show people examples of accidents that have happened. For example, mine, over the years of me working, I did used to do induction for the lads on site, and I always told them about my accident and give them a bit of knowledge about what happened to me, just so when they go out onto site and they have to have a job which is task specific, wearing glasses. And then I’ve told them more about my accident. It might make them think, oh, that lad told me about his accident.

I better just put some glasses on before I do this job in case something flicks up and hits me in the face. And this is more like what a lot of supervisors should be doing to their employees, just telling them things that could happen and that has happened, not to scare them, just to make them realized and make the awareness. And that’s what I’m trying now is just to make people aware of how easy an accident like what happened to me happened. Because one day you could be going to work, the next day you might not be coming home. And that’s the sickening thing about it. And a lot of people have got families which depend on them, especially us. We are like the main source of family income.

So, a lot of supervisors, to me, these days, they need to just think about the jobs they’re saying they need people to do because at the end of the day, you could task, you could set someone a task or a job and you might know it’s not safe, but you’ve still sent that employee out to do this job. And then something could happen to them, an accident or even worse, death. And that supervisor’s then got to live with that for the rest of his life. I probably said supervisor who was looking after me, knew about what happened, and I’ll stick with him for the rest of his days because I don’t suppose he knows what’s happening to me now. 15 years later.

This episode of The Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, re-energize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions, Propulo has you covered. Visit us at

Is there as well some elements here in terms of preparedness? So, you mentioned safety glasses. Should you have been wearing safety glasses? Is this something that should have been thought through before that the site should have prepared you for? Should there have been enough solution for an incident like this so that on site they had enough?

This is the thing that obviously, yet they didn’t have enough wash solutions on site, which it was a separate salt to the company I was an apprentice with. So, I was like a subcontractor to this main contractor.

So, the glass is policy that wasn’t really heard of back 2006, 2007. It was more or less if you were wearing glasses, it was down to your own. It was off your own back. It wasn’t pushed to your bottom line, like the companies or the health and safety. It was more like a task specific, wear them glasses if you were wearing it, if you’re doing cutting steel or cutting bricks or things like that or chopping bricks. So, it was up to you if you wanted to wear them. But then my accident happened. The company I was working for, they had the health and safety obviously got involved. And a lot of companies over the years since have made it mandatory for all their employees to wear glasses on site. I know the company I was working with, as soon as you walked onto that job, you had to wear full PPE, glasses, hardhats, boots, gloves. And that was from when you started to work to when you come off the job. So obviously, before nothing was heard of until Tom here as this accident, dropped this bucket of cement and it splashes in his eyes. And that’s what I mean I wasn’t given glasses to people. Didn’t realize how bad it was. A lot of people still to this day don’t understand how a bucket of cement can cause someone to go blind until they see a picture.

But this is the thing. Safety specs and safety glasses on site are obviously I’d always wear them myself. I’m site now, I’m constantly got my safety specs on because tiny bit of dust could get into my one eye and I’m blind again. And like I say to people on my motivational talks, I drive around on dumpier trucks and things like that. And if something goes in my eye without a pair of specs on, I could potentially hit someone, and the worst could happen. So, I have to be wearing more safety glasses all the while.

That’s what I’m trying to make people realize is that wearing these glasses, yeah, people might feel like they look a bit odd wearing these big glasses on your face. But if they’re going to protect these eyes, and this is the main thing that people need to realize, you have an accident like I had with my eyes. And you’re self-employed, working on a grant or working on a grant or you’re working on a site and your self-employed lads and you have an accident and you’re off for work for a year and no money’s been made, who’s going to be making that money? And it’s just a breakdown of things that you’ve got to make people realize is if you lose your job, you could lose your home and you could lose your family, you could lose your life. And the horrible steps that he could go down. And looking for me, I didn’t have to go down that way because my family, I had a strong family bond and they kept me in the right position. It did mentally mess with me in my head. And it happened. But now I’m trying to make a negative into a major positive.

Tell me a little bit about that. In terms of the knock-on effects, you touched on the impact personally in terms of how there was a physical pain, the physical impact. Tell me a little bit about what was the knock-on effect on family loved ones and then where you are now.

At the accident, like I said, I was a 17-year-old, still lived at home. My parents both lived at home. My brother lived at home. He was just going to university. Like I said, my mom, from that day forward, my mom was my career at 17 years old, being 17 years old and having your mom care for you and look after you. Just two weeks before the accident, passed my driving test and that’s one of the main things I wanted to do as a kid had my own car. Then you got your own freedom. I had my own freedom for two weeks. I was in work; I was driving my car to work. Then one day, not knowing if I’m ever going to see again, my mom being my career. He put pressure on the family, he did. I’m not going to lie, he eats. Mum and dad, they had arguments and things. My mom was taking me to the hospital every Monday. That was more or less a full day sitting around hospitals. And that happened for about a couple of years. She had to do a lot of things. I more or less was bedbound, or I was laying a settee.

So, she was more, made my food, made my drinks, things like that. Like put my drops in. I had to have drops. I was having all drops in every hour of the day, day and night. So, I was having that many different all drops, so she had to make her own spreadsheets so she could then make sure she was putting the right drop in the right eye. So, it was like a day. It was like a full-time job just looking after me for two years. And it was hard. My dad, he was the one who had to then keep the money coming in. Like I said, my brother was about to go to university. He obviously did. He needed money to pay for his university and things like that. So, he did put pressure on. I can’t not fault my family for everything they’ve done. If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t be speaking to you now. The state of mind I was in after the accident, I was ready to give up. And luckily, like I said, having that, then parents look after me and be behind me, it’s made me into that better person today. And now I have nowadays, like I said, I’m trying to do these motivational talks to make people realize and make things aware of how easy these accidents can happen. I lost the confidence. That was another big thing for me. Confidence was a big loss. I couldn’t talk to people. I couldn’t have face to face conversations. I couldn’t speak to women. I was paranoid about people looking at me in a different way. So, I didn’t put myself out there to meet girls and things like that and then a few years ago, five years ago, I met my beautiful fiancée who now is making me a stronger person and making me to the biggest person now to get up and speak to hundreds of people and make people aware. I can’t fault her for anything. She’s done so much for me in the last few years. That’s how the change in my life has happened. It’s like going from being down in the dumps and not knowing what’s going to happen to me in life to now being up there about to get married, have a baby on the way, have a beautiful girl, my fiancée, and a lovely house, and doing these motivational talks to hopefully prevent other people going down that path, and just making awareness and realization of what could happen.

I think it’s a great ending to a horrible incident in terms of where you’re at. I think there’s some important pieces here just in terms of, as I shared, somebody new to the job is much more likely to get influenced by production pressure, things of that nature. There’s a lot to be done when you bring in your employee. I’ve seen some leaders that do a phenomenal job recognizing that and showing up, making sure that somebody doesn’t feel they need to need to rush, that making sure that they reinforce that what matters is their safety. And if it takes a little bit longer to do it, that’s okay. Just really making sure that somebody who’s an apprentice, who’s learning, is taking the time and is not negatively impacted by production pressures. There’s a lot of elements that can be done in terms of creating a setting that’s welcoming and also identifies the risk and the hazards to prevent early on. And I think that’s an important story or message from his story.

It’s true. Young employee should be supervised from the date that someone step on that site to the time they finish. They shouldn’t be left alone because like I said, anything could happen. And this is what people need to realize. These supervisors need to understand that when they send people out on sort, then they need to know that even the person they’re sending out on sort is their monster straight because a lot of us have problems at home and we don’t know what to tell people about it. I could have a problem at home, I go to work and that problem’s in my head and it’s taking my whole concentration off the tasks I should be doing at work. Like I said to these supervisors, even before you send someone out, just check them all out in the morning, just have a chat with them. Did you get up too much last night? Did you have a good weekend? Just find out a bit about the lads you’re working with. It helps people out mentally. It really does. I love having the conversation with people at work. Now it’s great. I love going to work and especially working on site.

It’s a different… It’s a good crack. Everyone gets on with each other and we all have a laugh. But you’ve got to make sure because all men, most men work on site and a lot of men do need to talk up and speak up a bit and speak about the problems because if I didn’t speak about my problems and I bottled it up inside, it could lead to other things. And that’s what a lot of us men do. And that’s what I like to cover in my talks, a lot more about men speaking and opening up to other blokes. And don’t be worried about what other people think about. But I could probably say people would say things about me doing the things I do now because it’s what I used to do. But you’ve got to make a change in life. It’s not all about sitting in the background. You’ve got to get yourself out and make people understand you a bit more. That’s one thing, like I say, us blokes don’t like to do because we feel like with a strong bond, we’re that main person in the family and things like that.

You don’t want to show people your weaknesses, but it’s all wrong to show people your weaknesses. Don’t be scared about showing other men or other people that you’re weak because we’re not all weak, we’re strong. This is what we all need to start doing these days is just opening up a bit more to other people. Not too much. Like I said, in the morning, you’ve got your lads coming in the office and just have a chat with them and just check that they’re all right before you send them. See how they’re doing.

Just before you send them out on a job, or you could be going up a big building, or it could be high or down the ground. But just check they’re all right before they go out onto the job. In case something isn’t all right, and they then do have an accident, which you could have prevented as a job supervisor.

Simple things, but incredibly important things.


In terms of creating the rapport when you get somebody on site. And I think also recognizing that a new employee and apprentice is trying to do their best and they interpret from their leaders what good looks like and are more likely to rush or do something, cut a corner if they think that that’s what’s desired of their leader. That’s it.

That’s it. This is why I’m trying to do this now because… Well, like I said, I was a young lad at one point and that’s what happened. And if I can stop other young lads losing the salt or losing anything, you know what I mean? I know I’m doing a good job and that’s what it’s all about is making sure they’re aware of everything that’s going on in the workplace.

Sure. Tom, really appreciate you sharing your story and congratulations on your new addition to your family coming and the upcoming wedding. Wishing you all the best. If somebody wants to get in touch with you, Tom, and is interested in hearing your story or having you share your story, how can they do that?

I’m on LinkedIn under Tom Corfield, Motivational Talker, and Facebook, Instagram, everything. But yeah, LinkedIn is the main source of where you can find me or anything. That’s where I put a lot of my talks, a lot of my speeches I’ve done over the years. Everything gets uploaded onto LinkedIn. So, if anyone is interested or would like to hear my speech and my story about the accident and my life and awareness and health and safety, mental health, yeah, Tom Corfield. That’s where you can find me. But I appreciate the invitation, Eric, and I hope I can make a difference.

Absolutely. Well, thank you for sharing your story and for joining the show today.

Thank you, Eric. Cheers. Thank you.

For listening to the Safety Guru on C-Suite Radio. Leave a legacy, distinguish yourself from the pack, grow your success. Capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at execsafetycoach. com. Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.

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Tom Corfield suffered a workplace accident 15 years ago where he lost sight in his left eye. He was just 17 when cement splashed back in his face, covering his eyes leaving him blind. Tom raises the key message that such a small incident had a huge impact on himself, his family, and his colleagues. It strengthens the message that managing health and safety, no matter how trivial it may seem, is so important.

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Safety Bonuses Leading to Life Changing Events with Steven Kirby

Safety Bonuses Leading to Life Changing Events



In this episode, Steven Kirby joins The Safety Guru to share his inspiring journey of resilience, hope, and purpose. Steven was involved in a workplace incident in 2011 that deeply affected him both physically and mentally. In our conversation, Steven shares his extraordinary story and reveals how he has transformed his personal life-changing events into a lifelong mission to inspire others. His message will undoubtedly prompt you to reflect on how to motivate individuals and organizations toward safer practices. Tune in to hear Steven’s powerful story about safety bonuses leading to life-changing events.


Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized ops and safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy’s success story begins now.

Hi, and welcome to The Safety Guru. Today I’m very excited to have with me Steven Kirby. Steven is a life coach out of the UK. He’s a keynote safety speaker. His background has been in construction. He’s got an incredibly powerful story to share with us today. Steven, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Eric. How are you doing?

Very well. Let’s get started with your story because your story is mind boggling when you first told me about it.

Yeah, right. My background is construction and demolition. I’ve been a life coach for the last four years and that’s due to the story that I’m going to come back and tell you. I started off as a site laborer, site operator in demolition, and I went my way over a few years to get my 360-excavator card and became a plant operator. I had a lot of experience on different sites. I moved from demolition to construction. I did a little bit in utilities. And then I was on a job 12 years ago. So, I’d been in the industry for 12 years. I was on a job 12 years ago and we’d just had two weeks off for Christmas and we’d gone back. And before the Christmas break, we had installed 60 meters of 600 mil pipe for a fire hydrant system. So, if you can imagine 60 meters, wasn’t it? Just in a straight line. And we were told that section, before I could dig the next section out, that section needs hydrostatic pressure testing. Now, I’d never seen or done a hydrant test before, never witnessed it, didn’t really know nothing about it. Four of the other guys, there was six of us in the team, they had an EVA or one of them knew of it, but he’d never done it. But there was one guy working with us who he had a street works card and apparently that street works card gave him the competency to be able to do a hard test site pressure test. And he said that he’d done it before on different sites. So, on this day, 11th of January 2011, so 12 years ago, we went through all the risk assessments, method statements, permits to work, and everything sounded and seemed really straight forward. Literally, fill the pipe with water until there’s water coming out the valve on the stagger end. Close the valve up and then put a compressor on and pressurize that pipe, get it to 28 bars of pressure. Once it’s at 28 bars of pressure, then job done. So, it sounded really simple. We get onto site, after we’d sand all the paperwork, we get onto site, its thick snow, it’s freezing cold, and this trench was maybe about 6 foot deep. It’s not a massive deep trench, but deep enough. Me being a typical digger driver, it was freezing cold, so I didn’t really have much to do. I got into my machine, turned the engine on, turned the heaters on and sat there.

And that was my intention for the rest of the day until these lads had got this tested and I could start digging the next section out. I didn’t really have much to do. So, the guys did what was told. They filled the pipe with water, put the compressor on, started pressurizing. We were told to get it to 28 bars of pressure. And it took about an hour to get to three bars of pressure. And at that point on the test end, it started leaking on the flange just down the boat. So, the guy who had the experience said, Right, stop the compressor, get in there and tighten that nut and bolts. Two members of the team was on the 18, Anthony and Jordan, two young lads. And they were keen to crack on and do some work. They were eager to do some work. So straight away, both of them climbed into the trench down the ladder. You’ve got one of them, if you can imagine, the spigger end is 600 millimeters round and about a meter wide. It weighed 460 kilograms. It’s a big lump of steel. Anthony sat on the pipe facing that way while Jordan stood in front of the of it so they could both get leveraged to tighten up the nut and the bolt.

They tighten it up, they get out the trench, turn the compressor back on, and now, we’re so low there, it’s about five and a half bars, five bar, starts leaking again, but in a different area. So, they do the same thing. We started at just after eight o’clock in the morning. By lunchtime, it was at about 10 bars of pressure, and it started leaking. So, at that point, I get out my machine. Something didn’t feel right. So, I opened my machine door and I said, Guys, before you go any further, someone go back to the office and speak to the manager, the supervisor, explain what’s happening, see what you see. So, one of the guys gets in the van, it’s a five-minute drive back through the site to the office. He explains the wrapped 10 bar. We’ve already had a couple of leaks. And he went on to his computer and he went on to Saint Gabain’s website because they manufactured the pipeline. And they went on Saint Gabain’s website, and he just said, No, it’s state for you. It can be tested up to 38 bar. We’re only going to go up to 28 bars.

Carry on doing what you’re doing. It’s fine. So, he came back, the James came back. He said, I said, carry on doing what we’re doing. At that point, the guy’s getting tightened up. It then gets to just after three, two minutes past three, I remember looking at my watch, it was two minutes past three in the afternoon, and we finish work normally at half past… Pack up at four o’clock. Now I’m thinking to myself, it’s taken all day to get to 18 bar of pressure and it’s leaking. I’ve only got less than an hour and we’ve still got another 10 bar to go. And I thought, there’s no way I’m working late. I’m working late tonight. I want to be away. So, in my mind, I believe that all 24 nuts and bolts on that planned phase wanted tightening up. The guys obviously weren’t doing it tight enough. And at the time, I was about 16 stone. I was body building. I was a big lead. So, I jumped out of the machine, and I said to the guy, look, give me the harness because you have to wear harness to enter the training. So, I said, give me the harness, I’m going to go in there and I’m going to tighten up all 24 nuts and bolts.

They started laughing at me and saying, go on then. They used to call me fatty. So, I was like, go on fatty, you go and do it. So, I climbed into the ladder, and I forgot to take the spanners with me. I get into the trench, and I’m stood directly in front of the pipeline. The trench is only not much more than a meter anyhow. The pipe is 600 mil.


And as I reached up for the spanners of one of the other guys, of one of my colleagues, I don’t remember nothing in that moment other than I reached for the spanners and then next minute I’m underwater, I’m trapped, I don’t know where I am, I don’t know which way is up, I can’t get out. I truly believed that I was in the local river. I didn’t know I was at work. I believed I was in the Humber. The only way I can describe it is like being in a washing machine. And basically, what happened is as I reached up, the pipe had failed, the snigger end had blown off. My eight and dig around was not there to stop it, but it was there in the trench. And the end of the pipe had hit my digger arm and moved that to the end of the trench, a couple of meters. So, the impact was huge. And I was literally as that 60 meters of water had come out the pipe, it was washing around at the end of the trench where I was. And I just couldn’t get up and I was trapped there.

I didn’t know I was at work. I didn’t know where I was. And I just remember my two boys was four and eight years of age at the time, Harry and Joe. And I remember thinking to myself, I can’t die. Please, please, please. I can’t die. And when the sea of life flushes before you, I was trapped under there now, what I know now for about 40 seconds. And in those 40 seconds, I was screaming for my mom, I was screaming for my kids, my partner at the time. I was praying to a God that I didn’t even believe in. I’m not a religious person. I wasn’t a religious person. And I was praying and saying, please, please, I’m 32. My kids, I can’t leave my kids. I just can’t leave. And then all of a sudden, everything seemed to stop. And I rose out the water and as I rode out the water, it turns out that Jordan, one of the young lads, the 18-year-old, had jumped in, seen me, grabbed what was left of my harness and pulled me up. And as he pulled me up out of the water, people had heard the blast from other jobs and other ideas.

So, all these people had run across and run over. And I just remember all of them looking at me and telling me to breathe, like screaming at me and saying.

My care, be brave. They’re like, Care, be brave. I remember stood there thinking, I want to but I can’t. Will somebody please help me? So, as I’m stood there, what the guys have said now is my face was gray, my lips were blue. I was in and out of consciousness. As young Jordan threw me out of trench, the water was released and I was able to get my breath, luckily. I just remember laying there not knowing what had happened. It was just even looking back now; it was crazy that I can’t put into words how big the blast was and what the lads had said. And people knowing what I know now, people don’t survive that incident. And the fact I got dragged out there and I still had my legs because if I’d have been directly in front of it, it would have cut me in two.

But I walked away from that physically with nine stitches in the back of my head. My overalls had been, and my harness had been blown clean off. And as that was blown off, my arms must have gone and hyper extended. So, I’d overstretch my tendons and injured my elbows. And my boots were found 20 feet away, both boots were blown clean off my feet. My feet were hyper extended as well. So, my feet, even today, I still have trouble with my feet. And I had pipe bedding like shrapnel stuck in my face, my neck, my head. But physically, I know how lucky I am. It was to be able to sit here now and talk about it, it’s crazy that I am still alive.

But, then for me, it was… And why I share the story, obviously there’s lessons to be learned from that, but it was my mental health. I never believed in… 12 years ago, you didn’t talk about mental health, you talked about depression. Somebody was depressed, and that was it. If somebody told me before the accident, they were depressed. I was the guy saying, it’s an excuse to stay off work. It’s all in your head. You can physically do it, crack on and get you on your work. The very first night after that incident, I started having nightmares. As soon as I went to sleep, I was trapped under water. I was screaming for my kids. And then as the days went on, it was the same. As soon as I drifted off, whether it was daytime or nighttime, I was trapped there. Even the smell of water, if I turn the kitchen tap on, the smell of water, I’d start shaking and I’d be trapped under there again. And knowing what I know now, that’s PTSD, but I didn’t know I had PTSD at the time. So physically, I was battered and bruised, you can imagine 18 bars of pressure, air trapped in the…

If it was just water, it’d have been fine. But there was air trapped in the pipe, so we’d created a cannon. So, we had literally created a bomb without knowing. So, the amount of air that came out and literally battered me, I struggled physically for about six months. But my mental health deteriorated from that first night. My way of dealing with it was I’m going to have a couple of beers just to take the edge off. I thought if I have a couple of cans of beer, take the edge off, I’ll get some sleep. By the end of, after about five days, I was drinking anything I could get my hands on, whether that’d be cheap cider, vodka, anything. Katie wouldn’t actually go to the shop and buy me it. I physically couldn’t go to the shop because I couldn’t move. Me and Katie started arguing quite a lot because I was drinking too much. I used emotional blackmail with my mom and my sister and my dad because I’d be saying, Will you bring me some alcohol? I need a drink. And Katie would get me it and say, no, you’re not having it.

And I remember saying, Look, if you don’t get me it, don’t come and see the kids because you’re not seeing them. You’re not seeing your grandkids. And I was nasty. It was horrible. But that went on for about 12 weeks of me self-medicating. And then it got to a point where I was angry all the time. I was agitated. The kids didn’t want to play. Harry didn’t want to come and sit with his dad. And I physically pushed him away and said, go away, go to your mum. Then I’d know that I’d done that. And I’d found myself sat in the bathroom crying my eyes out. And then I’d sit there for 10 minutes, splash my face, walk out, and Katie or my mom or anyone would say, Are you all right? And I’d be like, Yeah, I’m good. I’m all right. I’m dealing with it. But I wasn’t all right. You were hungry. Yeah, I was broken inside. And the more I drank and the more I fell into that spiral of depression looking back now.

I had a voice in my head. Now, we all have a voice in our head, but the more his voice in my head was telling me that I was supposed to die that day. That was my day to die, and I cheated death. It’s a bit like the film Final Destination, you cheat death and then it comes for you. And in my mind, that’s what happened. I cheated death and death is coming for me. So, I was in the physio, and I had doctor’s appointments because of my injuries. And I wouldn’t leave the house because I don’t leave the house because I thought if I leave the house, then it’s going to happen. Then it got darkling in that and I started to think, well, why am I waiting for death to come to me? Why don’t I just do it myself? These would be better off without me. I was supposed to die. That was my day now. I’ve cheated it. And I’d sit there thinking of words of ending it where my family wouldn’t find me. But the only way I could think of that was jumping off a bridge into water, which after that incident, I was petrified of water.

I didn’t want to do any other way because I didn’t want them to find me. I was in a really, really dark place. And then Katie said to me, we had a big argument. And she said, look, you need to get yourself sorted out. She said, you’re drinking too much, you’re angry, you’re sad, your emotions are everywhere. She said, you need to speak to a doctor. I started, she said, if you don’t speak to a doctor, if you’re not going to get help, then pack a bag and leave because we can’t carry on like this. And at that point, I started packing a bag to leave and I thought, I’ll just go. But as I was packing my bag, I had a full-on flashback again of being trapped under water, praying to a God, please, please, please, I can’t leave my kids. And here I am leaving. And I literally had a… In that moment, I had a full-on mental breakdown. I had a panic attack, couldn’t breathe, completely sobbing. Katie rang the doctor. Doctor came out to me, and he said, Steven, you need to see a mental health specialist, basically a therapist or counselor.

He said, but I can tell you now you’re suffering with PTSD, anxiety, depression. And they got me an appointment the next day to go and see a therapist. That therapist was… Well, the first therapist couldn’t help me. I explained what had happened in the accident and she said, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. I’m not qualified enough. She said, Leave it with us. I’ll get back in touch. We’ll get you another appointment. And again, the way my mindset was at that time, I walked away from there thinking, nobody can help me. I’m not supposed to be here. I went home that night, drank a full bottle of vodka, hoping I wouldn’t wake up. But I did. And that same day, another therapist rang me up, said, Can I go and see her? And she basically taught me fight, flight and freeze, and made me understand that voice in my head is my voice. It’s just then thoughts are coming from me. I just got to change it. I had three months of therapy twice a week, and that’s what led me on the path to what I’m doing now. When my last session was over, she said, Right, Steve, you’ve got two options.

You can either go carry on drinking and doing what you’re doing and never understand what you’ve gone through or why you’ve gone through it. Or you can go and start to learn about the mind, learn about human behavior, and start to understand exactly who you are and why you think in the way you think. My first intention was to go to pub and get drunk. That was all I was thinking. I was going to go and get drunk. But something stopped me, and I thought about what she said. I went home and I downloaded a book called Free Magic Words. And as soon as I started reading it, I got into it. And that book then led me to read hundreds of others, like the power of the subconscious mind, all sorts of mindfulness stuff, which if you would have asked me to read it before then, I’d have said, oh, shut up. It’s a lot of rubbish. Meditation doesn’t work. It’s all… You can’t do it. But the more I read, the more I opened my mind, the more I understood exactly who I was and where I was at and why I was thinking and feeling the way I was feeling.

And that took me on for now. The lessons I’ve learned, the courses I’ve been doing, it’s because of that what’s created SK Life Coach UK. So, I wouldn’t change any of it in a way. Maybe the way I train my family and my mom, but the actual accident happening, I believe everything happens for a reason. The people I now have in my coaching and in the speaking, maybe I was supposed to go through what I went through and survive it in order to pass on that message. And then four years ago, when I decided to sell SK Life Coach 2K, Steve Care, the Life Coach 2K, I got in touch with a client, and I’d never really looked at the accident up until that point. Even when I was going to start sharing my story, it was literally what I’ve just said, but in a little bit more detail and obviously the pictures to back it up and give people an understanding.

The more I investigated it and the lessons that I actually learned from it, like we had no training, there was no communication. That manager should have come out of his office, not just looked on his computer. He should have come out and taught and had a look himself. What had happened, the two weeks we were off for the Christmas break, the full area had flooded because it was quite a low area and there was a lot of rain, lots of snow. The 60 meters of pipe that we installed, as we were told, perfectly flat, had flooded and the pipe work had risen where there were joints. So, it was in four-meter sections and at each joint it had risen. So, when we filled it with water to do the pressure test, there was pockets of air in there because the pipe wasn’t level.

And that literally would create a cannon. If we’d have had training, if we’d have known, if we’d have had to understand it, we’d have known that that pipe always had to low level. It couldn’t have peaks because there’s chance of air in there. And you can’t compress the air like you would the water to do the test because it creates too much pressure. If that manager had come out of his office, he’d have seen that, stopped the job, stopped us doing what we were doing, told us to strip it all down, put it right, and the accident would have never happened. If we’d have had the training in the first place, we wouldn’t e had a look for that, and it wouldn’t have happened.

It turns out the spigger end as well, what slotted into the pipe work, it was a compression fitting and that slotted into the pipe and then it’s tightened up at the collar and it has to be tightened to a certain talk in order to keep it in place. The guy who put that together didn’t know that and he just got a normal wrench, tightened it up as tight as he could get it, thinking he was doing the right thing. But it actually weakened the bolts and the nuts and the bead world. So, it would create a loose cannon between us without even realizing all because of a lack of training. So that’s all the lessons that’s learned. And that’s what I get across the company’s, especially over here when I’m talking in person. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re working in; an accident can happen anywhere to any one of us. And if you don’t fully understand what you’re doing or you become complacent in some of that you do regular, that’s when it gets us. That’s when it happens. But then when I’ve gone to the client and explained all this as well and said I wanted to use all this in the presentation, not going to name their names, but I want to start lessons learned along from a safety perspective and the mental health now knowing what I know about mental health, I said, I believe there’s a need for it.

And they tried stopping me and said, no, Steve, we don’t want you to do it. Our bosses don’t want you to do it. I said, well, you can’t stop me doing it. It’s a life story. It’s something that’s happened to me. I said, I’ll get legal advice, but as long as I don’t mention you, you can’t stop me. And then he said, I’ll leave it with me. I’ll get back in touch with you and I’ll let you know what’s said. So, I said, Yeah. And then about three weeks passed and I still have not heard from the client. I’d work from that site for a good 12 years in my career. I tried calling them, I sent them emails, got nothing back. So, then someone said to me, if I write to the HSE, the health and safety department, if I write to them, I can ask for the investigation report through Freedom of Information.

Sure. What happened?

Yeah, exactly. And then I can use points of that in my PowerPoint when I’m sharing the story. So, I thought, Right, great idea. So, I wrote to the HCC. I got an email back and it said, sorry, Steve, we’ve got no record of you on our Neonatal systems. We don’t know who you are. We’ve got no record of an incident. Unreal. Yeah. So, I thought, Well, that’s really strange. So, I emailed the client and I said, I’ve been trying to get hold of him for three weeks. And I said, why don’t the HSE know anything about the accident? And he rang me up instantly. He said, you’ve spoken to the HSE. I said, I have. I said, I just want some information to use. I said, but they don’t know nothing about it. He said, oh, can you come to site, and we’ll explain how we report it and why? I said, yeah, yeah, that’s fine. So, they invited me to the site, and I was expecting to see a full investigation report, a folder, a laptop summit. And there was an A4 piece of paper on the table. And on this A4 piece of paper, there’s a little box in the top and it said in this box, Operatives suffered minor injuries during hydrostatic pressure test failure. And it was reported, he said, as a dangerous occurrence rather than a report.

Right, serious. Right.

So, I said, Right, so if that was just a dangerous occurrence, I said, If I was still in my machine and the lab was all around the trench and that pipe failed and we all went, Whoa.

That’s a different story.

That’s a dangerous occurrence. I said, I was stood in front of the pipe work. I was literally blown up in a way. I had stone stuck in my face and my head like shrapnel. I suffered injuries. I needed stitches. I had physio for six months in my feet and in my arms. I was able to have cortisone injections in my elbows just to be able to move my arms. I said, but you’re telling me that was only a dangerous occurrence. That’s minor injuries. They said, Yeah, because you didn’t break any bones or lose any limbs, it was minor injuries. I said, and on top of that, I had to go and have therapy and see counselors for over six months in order to get my head straight because I was suicidal because of that.

Happening. what had happened?

That happened, what had happened. He said, Yeah, I know. I said, But I said, and you’re telling me it was just minor injuries. It was just a dangerous occurrence. And he couldn’t look at me in the face. He just passed me this piece of paper and I walked away. I got back in touch with the HSE and give them the number off the top of this form, what he’d given me, this dangerous occurrence. And she said, Steve, it hasn’t even been reported as a dangerous occurrence because we’d still have it on our system. She said, so that’s just something that they’ve generated in house to show clients, principal contractors or whatever that they’ve got a report in. The paperwork. It’s a bit of trickle it. But she said it was never actually reported. She said, we’ve got nothing at all on our system. But because it was over seven years ago, the HFC physically couldn’t do anything. They couldn’t look into it.

Couldn’t do anything. Wow.

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Why I’m passionate about this side of the story as well is I’ve done quite a lot of work for scale, which is a big company in the UK and in America and across Europe. They had a fatality on one of their sites with one of the contractors three months after my accident. A guy died at a pipe, a pressure tested to build that free bar of pressure, three and a half, four bar of pressure, and he died instantly. Now, how I see it, if my incident had had been reported in the right way, then the HSE had to put out some briefing, newsletters, some report, some regulation stating what had happened and what not and what to do on their side. And that could have prevented that fatality.

It could have prevented another similar accident happening had it have been reported properly. But because it wasn’t reported, you can’t learn from it if it’s not reported. But I was looking back now, those guys in that office, who if they’d have had a lost time incident, wouldn’t have got their end fee a bonus. And basically, when you’re rewarding companies for having no incident, you’re always going to get cover up. So going back to my accident again, they had their own on-site ambulance. And when the accident happened, I thought 15 minutes they came to, I was strip naked, I was given white coats. They got me in the back of the ambulance. They put a bandage on the back of my head to stop the bleeding. My face was battered, I had a small cut here. They covered that up. They gave me a paper as a suit because they had nothing else in the wrong side of the ambulance. So, they just put me in a paper suit with white coats to keep warm. And then they took me in blue flashing lights. So, I thought I was going directly to the hospital. The hospital?

They took me in blue flashing lights and then all of a sudden after a few minutes, the stops, the doors opened, and I was in the car park. And basically, they got me out of their on-site ambulance, put me in a colleague’s car and told him to take me to the nearest medical facility, which was a 10 minute drive away, to go and get stitches in my head. We went there, we get to the local medical hospital, small little place on a house in the state. And the guy in reception said, oh, what are you here for? So, my colleague said, Oh, you need stitches. Didn’t really look at me. I was sat in there for half an hour in and out of consciousness before anyone came through. My goodness. And then the nurse came through, she took one look at me, and she said, What are you doing here? She said, what’s happened? I said, there’s a company not rung up. I said, I’ve been involved in an accident. Or James had to tell her. She said, no, nobody’s letting us know that you’re coming. Then she said, I can’t help you, you need to be at A&E, you need to be at the emergency department.

So, she was going to get me an ambulance. But James said, By the time an ambulance comes here, I could have gotten there in my car. She said, I’ve got him here, I’ll get him to the rest of the way. When we get back in his car, the shift site manager rang James and said, what’s happening? James turned around and said, we’ve been to the medical building. They can’t do nothing for him. He’s got to go to the A&E. The shift site manager was on the phone and then his words was, I think he swore, he said something along the lines of F&L. And then he said, Right, make sure you’re both on site tomorrow. And then he put the phone down. Then James got me to the hospital, and I got stitched up and got all the stone out and I had lots of X rays and whatnot. And then because I’d been unconscious, the hospital wanted to keep me in, but all I wanted to do was get home to my kids. So, I was like, I’m not staying. While I was trying to get me a bed, I was like, I’m not staying, I’m going home.

I got home about after midnight that night. The accident happened just after three. I didn’t get to hospital until half past six. So, it was like three hours nearly before I even got medically seen to. And then the next morning, I’d sign myself out of hospital, didn’t sleep because I was having nightmares. I was having flashbacks. Every time I nodded off, I was reliving it. Eight o’clock the next morning, there was a knock at the door, and it was a colleague from site had been sent to pick me up, take me back to site to give a statement. So, I couldn’t move. My arms were stuck in a T rex position. I had to say that the thing I did for extended, come back and then it just… I couldn’t move. I was bruised everywhere. I was battered. I said, I can’t go to work like this. He said, I’ve been told you’ve got to come in to give a statement. So, he helped me into the van. Good to say, I went straight to the principal contractor, to the MD and said, Can I give my now so I can go home? He said, No, Steve.

He said, I need to speak to the other five guys first, then I’ll speak to you. It’ll be about half past one this afternoon. So, I was like, well, what am I supposed to do? He said, just go and sit in the office. We’ll keep your tops up with coffee. Don’t worry, we’re not going to send you out to work. You’ll be all right. So, I am sat there and one of my supervisors walked by and he said, what are you doing here? I said, they’ve told me I’ve got to come in to give a statement. He said, Yeah, I bet they have. He said, they haven’t brought you in to give a statement. They brought you in because they don’t want a lost time incident. Because now.

You’ve checked in.

Now I’ve checked in. So, he said, Get in my van. I couldn’t walk. I could triple, but I couldn’t walk. He helped me into his van, and he took me home. The next day, the principal contractor and the client came out with a witness to my house to take a statement from home. Looking back now, then they sent an occupational nurse to my house as well the day after that. And her words to me was, they want me to say that you’re going to be fit to work on Monday. This is on the Thursday. She said, they want me to say that you’re going to be fit for work on Monday. She said, But I can tell you now, you’re not going to be fit to work on Monday. work at work for months for a long, long time. And then she went away, and she said, Look, just heal, just get better. Looking back now, if they’d have got me an ambulance, if they’d have rang an ambulance through, their on-site ambulance wasn’t MOT for the public roads. So, they couldn’t have took me out in their on-site ambulance. That was their site emergency only.

So, they took me in their emergency ambulance with flashing lights to the car park. But if they’d have got me an ambulance, the ambulance had even formed the police because it’s a white horse accident. And then it’s the police’s duty to inform the HSE.

The HSE involved, obviously, massive investigation into that. And people would have been getting in a lot of trouble because we should have been put in that position. Getting me on site the next morning, they had 2.3-million-man hours about a lost time incident. If I had gone into site that next day, there’d have been many guys at the top who wouldn’t have got their end of the year bonus. And I’ve been told that by a manager who’d since left. And they said they didn’t report it because they didn’t want a lost time incident on their end. No company wants an LTI. So, looking back, it was just one massive cover up. But if it hadn’t been covered up, like I said, other companies might not have had fatalities that same year because of the lessons learned from that near fatality. So, there’s many, many lessons to be learned from it. And it’s definitely a story, if you like.

It’s incredible because I’ve heard of stories like this in other countries. Never heard of it in the UK. But essentially to me, the main takeaway is that’s the risk that happens when you start putting financial incentives. As it starts warping what’s the right thing I should be doing as opposed to actively caring for you. It’s how do I make sure that this doesn’t seem as bad. Definitely. The impact in terms of reporting significant is a value in all of this for the organization, but for others too.

Yeah, exactly. Well, the principal contractor I was working for at the time of the accident ended up within months losing their contract. So, they lost the contract and another T1 company was brought in. Whether they’ll admit it was because of that incident, which they probably never would have, right? Because it was all covered up and kept in house. But yeah, that company lost the contract, and everyone said basically even the people that work for the client, it was because of that accident. It was because of that incident. So that one accident changed a lot of lives. When they say the ripple effect from an incident, whether it’s a fatality or whether it’s not, it still has massive, massive effects throughout any business. But again, this was 12 years ago. You’d think lessons learned and move on. My uncle still works on the same site. And back end of last year, he’s stood near his van and there’s a guy in a Mew, an elevated working platform, driving towards him with a sun in his face. And this guy doesn’t see him, he calls, stood near the van. And literally, the front right wheel drove into the back of him.

The wheel trapped all the inside his legs and he was trapped against the van. He was looking not to… He was lucky enough to told by doctor it was millimeters away from breaking both legs. And the same thing happened to him. Now, there’s a different contract on there now to when I was there, but it’s the same client, same place. And he was taken to a nearest medical center to get checked out. And then someone sent him the next morning to pick him up to get him back onto site and put him on light duty for three weeks. Now, that accident was never reported. I told him he should report it himself. If he ever has trouble with his legs and he needs to jump, there’s no record of anything. And he was like, oh, no, it’s not worth me losing my job. I was like, Yeah, well, that’s why I went in. I was worried about my job. At that time, I was living, like a lot of contractors, week to week on my wage, didn’t have savings. You are concerned for your job and that’s why when they’re telling you to do certain things like come in the next day, it’s like, Oh, yeah, I will.

No matter how you’re feeling, you don’t want to lose your job. But at the same time, it’s not worth it. If something goes wrong, report it. If you’re not trained to do a job, don’t do it. Your life isn’t worth your job. There’s plenty of other jobs out there with companies that treat you right. Again, that’s why I get that message across. If you’re unsure, stop and ask. Don’t just struggle alone. Whether it’s mentally or whether it is your job, never, never just struggle along because what you’ve got to do is ask, reach out for help and there’s always somebody to listen to you. I think.

As well, as we talked about for leaders, it’s also reflecting in terms of what’s the impact that some of these metrics, these incentives are driving. How do I test to make sure that the companies I work with have the right culture where they’re not doing things like what you described that they are encouraging reporting, they’re trying to learn, they’re trying to drive the right insights, but also that you’ve got the right pieces around communication training leaders that show up the right way. Like you said, you should have come to look at the work as opposed to just look at a website. Yeah, it was too busy, so I just looked at what you stated on their website as to putting this pipe work together and testing it. He’s like, Yeah, it can go up to 38 bytes. Fine. Every talk I do now, whoever I’m speaking for, if I’m speaking to supervisors and leaders, I’ll say, Look, don’t be that guy. If one of your guys comes up to you and he’s unsure of something, or she’s unsure of something. Yeah.


Stop what you’re doing and go out there and have a look because you’ll see it from your own perspective then. And that could save a life. It could save a serious injury. It can save not just them, but it saves the company millions of pounds as well if it goes wrong. Get out there and check for the welfare of their employees. Don’t just be that guy who says, Yeah, carry on, it’ll be all right. Or go and Google it. If you’re in Google it. That isn’t the way to be. It’s about safety culture within the company, within the business. And if you’ve got the managers, the supervisors on board with that mindset, that culture, that will spread right throughout any company, any business. And it’s talking to people in the right way. It’s the employers trusting that. They can come and speak to you. They can stop a job and not get in trouble for stopping the job because of time, contracts, all the rest of it. We know there’s deliveries on sites daily. If you’ve got so many hundred tons of stone getting delivered, but you stop a job because someone’s in trouble, everything falls behind.

But again, you deal with that as and when your life or somebody’s life always comes first when it comes to safety. And a lot of companies I’ve worked with over the years, over the 20 years, and a lot of companies that I even now speak to, some of them will say to me, safety is our number one priority. And I’ll laugh and say, no, it’s not. Safety is never going to be a number one priority because it costs so much. You need to be earning money in order to run a business, to have a successful business. You need to be earning profit. You need to be meeting contracts. You need to be meeting time, deadline. Safety could be on par with that, which it should be. Safety should be on par with whatever you’re doing. That culture should be level across. No shortcuts whatsoever. If you need PPE, if you need safety equipment, if you need guards, if you need barriers, it’s all there. Everybody on site should know all the regulations. They should know all the procedures. As long as all that’s in place, it’s on par. But safety will never be number one because a lot of companies just go bust.

They just go under. So, you’ve got to have that culture within the company. And I know of a lot of companies who… Even getting me in can be just a tick box to say they’ve got someone in to speak, but then I’ll speak to the guys afterwards and they say nothing’s changed. They’re like, we’re still doing this, we’re still having to do that. And I now get that message across that when I speak to companies, I speak to the managing directors, and I say why I’m doing this and what I’m passionate about. And the changes they need to be implementing in order to have that safety culture right throughout the site, it’s got to come from the top in order for the guy’s lower down to follow them procedures. But yeah, it’ll never be number one priority because companies can’t follow that, but it should be on par. Or number.

One value. It’s how we do the work. It’s definitely number one value.

It’s definitely number one value. And again, that comes to making sure the employees have got everything that they need. And having the confidence to be able to say, I’m struggling with this. Or if there’s a lot of pressure on them and there’s a lot of stress and they’re going through a lot of stress and they’re taking that on with them on a night and they’re having to drink self-medicate to calm down a little bit. They should be able to explain that the rubber stress and some of that pressure taking off them. But it doesn’t work that way. Somebody tells somebody that the rubber stress and they’re not managing, and they may be drinking too much, then they’re told, Right, we’ll get somebody else. And you’re told either do it or you lose your job, basically. And that’s the situation that people should find themselves in. Each company should be able to help their employees if they are stressed, help them with the dealing with that stress and take that stress off them a little bit. Not risk, not threaten the jobs. It should be working with them and helping the staff. And again, it’s that mindset throughout the business.

If everyone’s working together, if you speak to somebody in the right way, you’ll get a lot more work out of somebody if you appreciate them than you are if you’re belittling them and talking down to them. And it’s trying to get that through all the business. No matter what size the business is, all businesses, all companies, if you’re talking to people and you’re acting in the right way, then they’ll follow you and they’ll do the same. It’s about creating that culture. Thank you, Steve.

Really appreciate you coming and sharing your story. It’s a very powerful but thought-provoking story as well. Thank you for coming to share your story, but also for sharing it to other audiences. Tell me a little bit, if somebody wants to engage you for presentation in their organization, or you do a lot of also some life coaching, tell me how they can get in touch with you.

Basically, you can Google SK Life Coach UK, which is Steve Kirby Life Coach UK. And all of my social medias will come up. So, there’s the website, there’s LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and business page on Facebook. You just go to, all the information is on there. I normally I prefer to talk in person because the message comes across. I’ve got all these pictures of the accident. And the guys, or not just the guys, there’s a lot of women construction, but they can relate to me as to who I am and what I’ve done the work they’re doing. Rather than just being some guy who’s gone to university and studied the mind and I’m coming in to talk to him about it, I’ve actually done what they’ve done for the last 20 years. And now I found myself in this world because of an accident. So, I talk about the accident and the mental outside of it. But I also do it online as well. So, it does work as well when I share the screen and share the presentation online. So, any companies want to either book me in person or online, just go to

Thank you, Steven.

Have a lovely day. Thank you very much, Eric.

Thank you for inviting me.

Listening to the Safety Guru on C-Suite Radio. Leave a legacy, distinguish yourself from the pack, grow your success, capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.

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Steven Kirby is a former demolition/construction contractor with over twenty years of site experience. In 2011, he was involved in an accident at work which caused him to suffer both physically and mentally. In 2019, he set up SKLifeCoachUK Ltd. He now uses the tools, techniques, and knowledge that got him through his darkest times to coach individuals who are struggling. He also shares his story with companies to improve safety culture and mental health awareness.

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Working Safely: The Best Gift to Your Family and Loved Ones with Lisa Ramos and David Garton

Working Safely: The Best Gift to Your Family and Loved Ones



“Nobody ever said to me, ‘Cut corners, work unsafely, product over people.’ No one ever said that. I think it was an invisible pressure that I put on myself.” In this powerful and inspiring episode, Lisa and David share their story and experience surrounding Lisa’s workplace incident that occurred seventeen years ago and how they continue to overcome the mental and physical aftermath within their family. Tune in as Lisa shares the crucial importance of building a culture of safety ownership, encouraging team members to speak up, and reporting all safety concerns. Learn why working safely is the greatest gift you can give to your family and loved ones.


Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized ops and safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi, and welcome to The Safety guru. Today I’m very excited to have with me two guests, Lisa Ramos and David Garton. They’re both health and safety impact speakers. So, Lisa and David, welcome to the show. Very excited to have you with me.

Morning. Thank you.

First, Lisa, why don’t you start by sharing a little bit of your story?

I was working for a logistics company. I was based within the warehouse. Dave was also working there. That’s how I initially found out about the vacancy. I did have very close proximity to forklift trucks. Now, the day of the accident, I hadn’t done anything particularly different from any other day. And about half an hour before the end of my shift, I was walking past where we had some of our container bays and I was knocked to the ground by a reversing forklift. I hadn’t realized that he was in the empty container, and he hadn’t realized that I just walked past it.

So, tell me about the environment because this is something as you remember you were sharing that you cross through this particular area on a regular basis. It was the marked path, if I’m not mistaken.

Yes. Within our warehouse, we did have designated walkways. However, they were more of a visual. So, there wasn’t really any segregation. It would be marked out on the floor with a piece of green tape. And where this particular walkway was, in hindsight now, you think, well, why would a walkway have been put there when it was an area where the fault list would be going in and out?

It wasn’t put in the best location in hindsight. On that particular day, we’d finished all of our work. The area was completely silent because there was no more work to be done within that area. I think that although I had become very complacent and felt very comfortable around the 40 drivers, I think probably because we’ve done all of our work that added to it because there was no reason for anybody to be within that area anymore. I walked past the first one, the drivers in there with his engine off, he’s reversed out, but he’s not reversed out far enough. And then he’s come and reversed onto me where I’m on the walkway.

Right. Wow. So, tell me about the incident and the aftermath. So, David, I think you weren’t there. You were coming to pick Lisa up, correct?

Yeah, I was traveling to work to pick Lisa up. I remember number one walking across the car park and everybody else was coming out. I noticed that none of them could look at me, if you get what I mean.

Right. then none of you acknowledged me. Then the group leader took me to where Lisa was on the floor, but she was just covered in coats, so I couldn’t actually see what her injuries were or anything like that. The medical staff were there looking after her. We obviously got loaded into an ambulance and then taken off site. It wasn’t until we got to the hospital and the doctor came to examine her that I actually saw that’s when I first saw her injuries. Wow.

Tell me a little bit about what was the effects… You often talk about the effect on the family, the ripple effect. Lisa and David, what were some of the themes that emerged and that happened as a result?

I think the main ripple effect for us was the impact on our song. Even to this day, I know that we focus a lot now on mental health and I think that there is so much focus on the injured party that there was lots of counseling. I mean, I probably had counseling for about three years. So, I was able to overcome what had happened and then accept that this was my new life now, because if you don’t accept it, then it’s not only hard for you, but it’s hard for everybody around you. But I think because everybody is so focused on the injured party, you don’t really see what’s happening right in front of you. So, for us, the impact on our son, I mean, the day of the accident, it was actually his 13th birthday. When I look back now, we didn’t live near any of our family, so Dave had to ring him up and say, look, your mom’s had an accident at work. It isn’t serious, but you’ve got to ring all your friends up, cancel your party. He was then waiting for my mom to pick him up. So, he didn’t actually know how serious my injuries were until the following morning when Dave brought him in to see me.

Even that aspect of it, where Dave knew the night before that my foot had been amputated, he’s then got to go and fetch Ciaran from my mom’s and pretend that I broke my leg because we had made the decision that it was better for him to be told by me when he could see me face to face than be told by somebody else. Little things like when I came out of hospital and his birthday cake was still in the box. Little things that you then like, wow, his birthday is never going to be the same again and trying so hard to make it about him rather than you. And that’s far more difficult for other people because it gets to his birthday and you might have a little cry and be a little bit upset, but you’ve got to pull yourself together because it’s not about you, it’s about him. But all the people for many years afterwards would ring me on Kieran’s birthday and it would be, Are you okay? But you’re trying so hard not to make it about you. So, at times it was as though they wanted you back there, but you were trying so hard to move on and let Ciaran have his birthday back.

For us, the mental health side of things, Dave suffered, I suffered, Ciaran still suffers. I know that my mum and my step mum found it very difficult to come to terms with. In fact, I think that I would put Ciaran suffering the most then maybe my mom and my step mum because they found it quite difficult to see me go from this person into this other person. Sure. Especially my mum. My mom sees loss So if I was walking, my mum wouldn’t think, wow, she’s walking. My mom would think but look how she’s walking. Look how she’s struggling. It’s very difficult for her to separate the two. Whereas that’s what I’ve had to do. In my mind, it’s before and it’s after. But for Ciaran, at the time, and many years after, it’s probably only in the last couple of years where he has realized that this did impact him. For Ciaran, he got freedom after I had my accident because I was so focused on my rehabilitation that he got freedom. For him, that was a positive. For us, that wasn’t a positive because he started hanging around with people he shouldn’t have been hanging around with.

Then these people got worse and worse and worse and worse. His behavior is so different to what we would have wanted for him and the struggles that he’s had. Simple things like being able to express yourself. At a crucial point in his life, he watched me behave in a volatile, aggressive manner when things weren’t going my way. So, for him, that’s quite normal to just explode and have this anger. For him, he struggles to express himself. Emotionally, everything is anger, and you can’t behave in that manner. But for him, that’s quite normal. And you can only do so much in terms of counseling and that type of thing when that person doesn’t really want to have counseling or doesn’t really think they’ve got a problem. It’s only really now that he’s accepting a lot of support, and we are hopeful that by the end of it, that he can go on to have a happy life because you can’t be happy when you’re so full of anger and rage. And I’ll be honest, I was like that for probably three years. I was so angry, and it was all focused on the driver. That’s who I was angry at.

You’re looking to blame somebody because it’s far easier to blame somebody else than to blame yourself, or even take responsibility for any part of it. I do feel a lot differently now, but that’s only been in the last few years. My accident’s coming up to 17 years is now. I’ve not changed the fact that the driver wasn’t looking where he was going. The walkway shouldn’t have been there.

But, I have changed the fact in terms of looking at where did I go wrong? What could I have done to have changed what happened that day? And there’s lots of things that I could have done. I just no longer saw the danger anymore. I’d gone from being frightened when I first started working there because I’d never worked in such a busy environment. I don’t come from a warehouse background. I come from an administrative teacher background. I went very quickly from being afraid of these vehicles to no longer seeing them as being dangerous. I think that being complacent when you are working around people who you think work safely can also be a problem. I was using an example the other day that when you’re in a supermarket car park, you don’t know these people who are driving in and out of the car parking spaces, and you’re alert and you’re watching what they’re doing and you’re careful. Go into a warehouse environment where you’ve worked with these people and you know that they are safe drivers, you’ve picked up so many bad habits, you’re relying on somebody else. You’re no longer alert; you no longer see danger that you may have saw at the beginning.

You’re And I think that the other thing is that I didn’t really see forklift as being anywhere near as dangerous as a car. That’s how I saw it. It was this little cute moving machine, and I didn’t really realize the damage that a forklift truck.

Could do to a person. The driver, when he ran me over, he actually said he thought he’d run over a roll of tape. So, the tape that we used to use would be about this big and that’s what we’d mark the floor out with. And that’s what he thought he’d run over. And it was only ages afterwards where I thought, Oh, my God. The impact to the vehicle that he felt he thought was a roll of tape, which is just so unbelievable. But I think that people sometimes think that the worst injuries is the actual amputation. That isn’t. It’s the pain that comes with that. So not only do I have phantom pain it. I’m laughing because to a lot of people, it’s a bit unbelievable that you could be in pain for something that’s no longer there. But for me, it feels a very physical pain. But it’s also the nerve damage because our walkway was so close to the container bays. I’m on that walkway. He’s reversed onto me on the walkway. The only way that he could get off me, because he’s reversed over me, he’s tore everything one way. So, the only way for him to get off me was basically running me back over.

So, he’s then torn everything the other way. So, all the nerve damage that came with that. But what I used to find really, really peculiar was the fact that the nerve damage that I suffered, the end of the stumble, I couldn’t actually feel. So, if I was wearing a prosthetic, I wouldn’t be able to feel if it was rubbing, blistering, that thing. But I could feel my foot and I could move my foot, which is so crazy. Even to this day, I can feel my foot. So, since day four of the accident, which is even stranger because you think, well, if you’re going to feel it, surely, you’d feel it at the time. No, they took my foot on the Friday. I felt my foot on the Tuesday when they took the leg. So, it’s one of those really, really peculiar things that even doctors and those people up there, they can’t explain why it is. I think it’s to do with the brain and the signal not quite getting there in time. It’s a comforting sensation, but the pain side of things is just unbelievable at times.

This episode of The Safety guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, reenergize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions, Propulo has you covered. Visit us at

I want to go back to what you were talking about in terms of getting comfortable with the danger, because I think you come into an environment, you hopefully got some training in terms of the risk, the dangers, the environments, how do you protect yourself in this context? And then over time, you start getting comfortable with the risk and the hazards. Tell me a little bit more about that. And are there ways to prevent that degree of comfort?

When I started, we had an induction. Obviously, part of that was some health and safety. I can remember watching a video that was a man who basically got a fake arm in his shirt and the forklift took the arm off and it was all very… It was all very It was more comical than informative. It didn’t really go into my mind that, wow, these are dangerous. I didn’t like being around the forklift, to begin with. But then I watched my colleagues, and I thought I was the first female that had ever worked within that warehouse. So, I don’t know whether some of these different things were factors in that I didn’t want anybody to think, oh, we knew we shouldn’t have had a woman in here because you can’t handle it. But I know that it didn’t take very long for me to become comfortable around the fort. My area within that warehouse, you know how you can get partitions, which is basically stand with a bit of sponging on it? So, I had two sides of that, but I would have forklift on all four sides. So, it was basically not even a cubicle within the warehouse space.

It was basically just two partitions one at the back, one at the side, but forklift would be on all four sides around you. And so even when I look back now, I think, wow, that really wasn’t good. I know it’s not possible to segregate within our businesses, but obviously, we know that the only way to prevent something like this from happening is segregation, or as much segregation as you can possibly do. There wasn’t really any segregation there. I also think the attitude towards health and safety. There wasn’t really any attitude towards health and safety. I thought that I worked very safely. It’s only in the last few years where I started really analyzing my own behavior. I’m not saying I have flashbacks or anything like that, but I think of a time where I’d say to the forklift driver, oh, bring us that fella over here, mate. I’d check it on his forks while his engine is running. And when I look back now, I think, why would I have done? Or why would I have behaved like that? And I think that I felt comfortable. That driver was safe. He never gave me no reason not to be safe.

But you just think, why would I put myself in a position? So, although I don’t think I did anything particularly wrong the day of the accident, there were definitely things that I could have done to prevent it speaking up.

I think all of us could have done something different.

Was Lisa’s team leader, so why didn’t I see the danger? I’m supposed to be there to protect people as part of my job, and I didn’t see the danger. And I’d work there for years doing the same thing as what Lisa was doing, but I never saw the danger, either. I think the problem is as well is that because there’s never been anybody injured, if there was any damage, because it’s stock, it’s not really taken the same way. Sure. And so, if a palette’s been damaged, a palette’s been damaged. We don’t look at that as, wow, that was a close call. Let’s have a think about what we can do differently. The states of people’s forklift trucks, they’re all scraped up, scraped and got dint. There’s lots of things that I think that us as employees could do. I also think there’s lots of things that management could do, because I think we all have our different priorities that we are working towards. In my case, nobody ever said to me, cook corners, work unsafely, product over people. No one ever said that. I think it was an invisible pressure that I put on myself that I thought, Right, well, we need to get 10 loads done today, but with one man down, we still got to do it. And I think from an employee, you think to yourself, if you do think to yourself, oh, well, in order to achieve that, I’ve got to cook corners, you’re assuming that those above know what you’re doing because how do they think we’ve achieved that when we haven’t got the right amount of staff?

But obviously, they’ve got their own priorities that they are working towards and don’t necessarily realize that in order to achieve the same amount of work, you are cutting corners. Therefore, you’re working unsafely. I also think that those on the ground floor should have more involvement in the risk assessments because I think that if I was cutting corners, at no point would I have thought, I’m going to cut this corner because then I can get my work done, but now I’m working unsafely, because I probably didn’t realize the repercussions of missing out one tiny bit of my job, which will save me time. So, I think that if people are involved in the risk assessment, the more likely to buy into it and think, Right, well, I need to do it like this because… And these are the reasons. It’s a bit like when your mum and dad say, Because I told you so. Your boss is saying, Work like this because I told you so. If you know the reason behind that, you’re more likely to go, well, actually, yeah, they’re the right, because they want us to go home safely and go home in the same piece that we arrived.

So, I think that the problem is at the minute is that in order for people to work safely, everybody has got to participate. I think we focus a lot on those who are on the ground floor, the ones who are going to get injured, because they’re the ones who would get hurt. But the problem is, if the supervisors and the managers also aren’t on board with that, it makes your job very difficult because if you are short staffed or you are running behind, the expectation there is to still do your amount of work, but how can I do the same amount of work if I’ve not got the same amount of time, people, and all those other things that are needed to work safely?

I’d like to much on something else because you talked about this pathway, which was marked with tape. I think a lot of it is you talk about risk assessments, which I think is phenomenal, getting more people involved. But you also want people to speak up when they see something to drive improvements. So, tell me a little bit about how the organization can help and foster that, and also the individual role around it. Because I think the speaking up piece with that pathway, it probably corrects me if I’m wrong, it was probably in the wrong place. It should have been.

Somewhere else. Yeah, I believe it was in the wrong place. But believe it or not, there are still businesses who have the walkway precisely in that same place, even to this day. For us, we’ve got the health and safety executives. If they made the decision and said, Right, within the UK, you no longer are allowed walkways there. That would make things so much easier for businesses because they’d know they were breaking the law. They can’t do it. For me, every single day I was on that walkway, if I was doing 10 loads, I’m on that walkway more than 10 times. At no point when I poked my head in to see if there was a forklift in that container, did I think to myself, oh, that’s dangerous, because he could have come out and I wouldn’t have seen him. Every single time that that happened, I had the opportunity to report that and didn’t. Now, I don’t know had I reported it, if anything would have been done, because I personally believe at that time there was no health and safety culture, not from curves and not from management. But at the same time, no one was stopping me from reporting that.

I never reported anything the whole time I was there. And I think that a lot of businesses now do make it a lot easier for people to report things. We’ve got into businesses where they have anonymous systems. So, if there’s something going on, but you haven’t got the courage, because sometimes there can be repercussions. Whether it’s a member of staff that’s working unsafely, you don’t always feel comfortable going up to that member of staff and saying you’re working unsafely. It doesn’t always go down very well. So, there’s anonymous ways to report things. We’ve gone to one business, and they came up with this system where they input it onto an app, it goes directly to the top guy in health and safety alongside the other people in health and safety who should be dealing with it. But because it’s gone to him as well, he gets to see it. It. And I thought that was absolutely fantastic. They’ve got an app where they can go… Most people have got the phones on them where they can take a picture and upload it immediately. It doesn’t always cost a lot of money to implement things that people can easily access and report things because a lot of times we do think, Well, it’s not really my problem.

Somebody else can report it, or it’s somebody else’s issue. They can deal with that because I think that’s where we’re at, where we need to start reporting incidents. But we’ve been to places where people aren’t sure whether something is a hazard or a near miss.

Which is a problem. Right.

Even education on that. When I said the other day that when you’ve worked somewhere, a while, but you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re at that awkward bit where you’re like, Right, I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, but I don’t ask anybody because they’re going to think, well, what you’ve been doing for the last two months. Some businesses have done that, for example, went into one business, they came up with this fantastic app that cost £1.99. Basically, it was video tutorials of how you do your checks on your thought forklift, because what they found was that they had some people within the business whose reading and writing wasn’t brilliant, who might find it embarrassing to come forward and say, I’ve got this issue. So, they decided to go down the road off doing video tutorials. They would have a tablet. They’d be trained on how to set that up. And then they were able to watch a video on how they were supposed to be doing, all the checks. Or they would do a questionnaire where the questions were put in different orders each time. So, you’re not just going yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

So, the there’s loads of different things that are out there. I think with health and safety, I think it’s good when we are sharing ideas what other businesses have got because that helps everybody. It doesn’t need to be top secret. But I think that there is a lot more businesses now who are prioritizing health and safety, invest a lot of money into the safety of their staff. But again, everybody needs to participate. You can’t just be them right at the top and then right at the bottom, because those in the middle can quite easily cause problems to stop them at the bottom working safely.

I think you talk about making it easy. I think that’s really important. The organization’s got to do something about the feedback that they receive. But I think the fundamental piece is they’ve got to encourage it. It’s got to be a culture where I want this feedback. I want people to look for opportunities to drive improvement versus your nuisance if you come up with issues or themes that come forward. I think that’s often the hardest part to change because everybody in the organization has got to shift their thinking and their response when somebody does bring up some.

Challenges around it. Responsibility as well. Responsibility. We are all responsible. I can remember years ago when I first started at work, that’s what we were told. You are responsible for yourself. You are responsible for your colleagues. I think that when we started introducing health and safety positions or departments, sometimes what would happen is the rest of us would think, Oh, brilliant. I could go into that warehouse with my eyes shut because somebody else could make sure that I’m safe. You thought, Well, that’s not my job anymore. It must be safe. And that’s what I would have thought. I would have thought whatever feelings I’ve got about the position of that walkway; it must be safe because we’ve got health and safety department here. So, I’m overthinking it. That’s where it would have ended. I never would have reported it because I didn’t see it as that big of an issue. When there was a lot of activity going on within that area, you’ve got the noise, you’ve got the lights, and you’ve got all of that going on, I would have been 100 % alert. My accident happened Friday afternoon, half past three when I was finishing at four o’clock. I’d finished all my work. Nothing else was left to be done. And for whatever reason, I did not look in that container. I Just walked past.

Thank you. You’ve shared a lot of important themes around cutting corners, around acceptance of risks, around speaking up in the role of an organization, around creating that questioning attitude. You both speak together. Tell me a little bit about the focus of your presentations that you make in organizations.

I focus on me, me, me. But to be honest, I think that when the more powerful speeches by date.

Because I deal with the family, particularly our son, Lisa’s parents. I do think that that comes across then because people start thinking, how would my family cope? What would happen to me? What would happen to them? I think that then comes across a lot harder.

Yeah, it hits home. When me and Dave did our very first speech, it was about five years ago, and it was for the Four-leaf Truck Association in the UK. I made Dave do it. He wasn’t down to do a speech, so I made him do it. When I heard him speak, I cried the whole time. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that he went through anything, and that’s the honest truth. And for a long time, I would listen to him, and I’d cry because you’re so focused on yourself and how it’s changed your life. You’re know, it’s like, if he would have said out loud to anybody, I’ve lost my job. I’ve got to sell my car because the wheelchair won’t fit in it. If he’d have moaned about anything like that, he would have been lynched by my family and friends. His life changed so much, but I didn’t even see that. All I saw was how my life had changed. I’m the one that’s injured. I’m the one that’s lost my leg. I’m the one that’s disabled now. I never saw all the things that he had to give up continuing being part of my life, if you get what I mean.

When you’re the injured party, you can become very selfish because you only see what you’ve lost. You don’t see what other people have lost. And unfortunately, by the time you’ve come to terms with it, in Karen’s case, it was too late because Karen no longer wanted a mum to be discipling him. Because by the time I decided, Right, okay, I’m all right now, I’ve had my counseling, I’ve come to terms with it, I can start being a mum again, he was off the rails. It was too late at that point. He needed that structure throughout. But I couldn’t see what was right in front of me and how it had affected him so much and his behavior had been affected.

All right. Lisa, David, thank you very much for coming on the show. If somebody wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?

Probably on LinkedIn. Perfect. I don’t know whether I can give you a link for that. I can also give you some links to some free resources. There’s a very short video that I did for the forklift Truck Association. I know that the statistics won’t be the same, but in the UK, there’s five workplace accidents a day. And I would imagine that where you are, again, you would think that your health and safety standards are probably one of the best in the world. That was quite shocking to me that in the UK that we’ve got…

Five a day.

There’s also a short film and I can send the link for that. So, if there’s anybody who’s listening who have got issues with forklift within their business, that they can use those resources, whether it be an induction or as a training day.

And we’ll put those in the links with the podcast episode. So, thank you very much, David and Lisa. Really appreciate you joining.

Thank You. No worries.

Thank you for listening to the Safety Guru on C-suite Radio. Leave a legacy, distinguish yourself from the pack, grow your success, capture the hearts and minds of your teams, elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at execsafetycoach. Com. Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.

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Lisa Ramos was involved in a forklift accident at work in 2006, and as a result of this is now an above knee amputee. She had been working alongside her husband David Garton for several years. They offer a unique alternative to raising awareness of health & safety issues within the workplace, with their frank and honest account of her rehabilitation, and the long-term struggles that are part and parcel of adjusting to life, as a disabled person. Whilst they came to terms with what happened many years ago, the change in Lisa’s behaviour has had a lasting impact on their son Kieran.

For more information:,, or contact them by email at [email protected].

Please watch a short film made that is based on the first 12 months after the accident and that demonstrates the impact it had on Lisa, Dave and her 13 year old son Kieran.




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