In this Safety survivors series we’re hearing from people who’ve been seriously injured, both on and off the job. They’ve discovered, to their cost, how important it is to fully evaluate risks and take steps to mitigate them, and now they’re sharing their stories so others can learn from their experiences.

Curtis Weber was just 17-years old when he took a summer job with a steel construction company in Saskatchewan. With a promising sports career ahead of him he wanted one last summer at home before heading off to play junior hockey in Alberta.

Unfortunately Curtis never made it to Alberta. His hockey career was brought to a dramatic end before it even started; and the course of his life was changed due to one simple mistake. Here’s how Curtis describes what happened:

Curtis was thrown from side to side, engulfed in flames, while three separate jolts of electricity burned through him. By the time it was over he was unconscious and no longer breathing. That was the start of a long battle for his life:

Why it’s never worth taking safety risks

As we’ve seen in previous blog posts, safety is compromised when risks are minimized. Sometimes it’s due to that human tendency to think everything is bound to work out fine, other times it might be hard for an individual to go against the thinking of the group. Either way, as Curtis discovered, it’s never worth carrying on regardless of the risk:

Curtis felt that, as a 17-year old and a brand new member of the crew, it wasn’t his place to speak up. So what can we change to ensure that every voice is heard and no one is forced to put themselves or others in danger?

While Curtis holds himself partly responsible for not having spoken up, he believes this is definitely a situation where everyone in an organization needs to take some responsibility:

Curtis WeberThese days Curtis shares his story as much as possible to try and teach people the potential consequences of a brief lapse in safety. He presents to people in the oil and gas, mining and construction industries, and to government departments and schools. It’s his way of helping make sure his ordeal doesn’t happen to other people.

“I was just a kid who had everything going where it was supposed to go for me. I didn’t think anything bad was going to happen, and now that I know that it happens, and it’s something that can’t be undone, I think it’s important for other people to hear the message.”

This blog series is one of the ways Enform is trying to spread the safety message and increase safety awareness.

In part 1 of our Safety survivors series we heard from two people who received a sharp lesson about bear awareness during a break from work up near Fort McMurray. Stay tuned for more stories to come.

  • Ron Mann

    I too have a 17 year old boy that plays hockey and has aspirations to play hockey at the Junior “A” level. He has started working in industry helping as a labourer around transport trucks and as well as in construction.

    I work as a Health & Safety consultant and I asked him what type of safety training he received when he started with both jobs and as usual I was not surprised with his answer…no training whatsoever! I talk to him about what the risks are and how to evaluate what the risks are but as his father I get the blank look and the deer in the headlights look because as we all know…what does dad know.

    It is time for all employers to take seriously young and new workers entering into the work force and taking the necessary steps in ensuring that we set up individuals for success. I would bet that no a single business owner would put themselves or their loved ones at risk so why put others loved ones in that position.

    • Enform Safety

      Thanks for sharing your story, Ron. We agree – the importance of safety training aimed specifically at new or young workers cannot be overemphasized. We’re making it a priority to build awareness and provide programs, but it’s an issue that needs to be addressed in every industry.

      • rich

        I was electocuted 20 yrs ago with 14000 volts. I would love to help young guys out who happen to be in the same spot. It changes everything.. I was lucky. Today is my birthday I feel so weird it was like yesterday. Time is relentless so is the expectations of others for you to soldier on. Easy to say hard to do.

        • Enform Safety

          Thanks for sharing your story, Rich. By sharing the stories of survivors like you we are hoping to help people understand the consequences of even small lapses in safety. You might like to check out if you’re interested in helping further. Thanks!

  • kannan natarajan

    Every risk assessments , the assessor should consider the presence of vulnerable groups to identify the exact level of Risks . Young workers should be maximum restricted to carryout hazardous Jobs . If they carryout they should be provided with sufficient level of Occupational health and safety training to identify and to manage the risks .