Remembering young workers turned victims

The stories behind the statistics
By
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/13/2003

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new memorial to the thousands of young Canadian men and women who have been killed or injured on the job was unveiled at the annual Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA) conference in Toronto last month.

“There are some compelling statistics behind the creation of the Canadian LifeQuilt,” said Maureen Shaw, IAPA president and CEO. “Each year, over 60,000 young workers are injured seriously enough to require time off work. Over the last two years, nearly 100 young workers have been fatally injured as a result of hazardous working conditions,” she said.

The central panel of the LifeQuilt is a figure holding its hands up to the heavens, overlaid with ribbons bearing the names of young people injured at work. It is surrounded by 100 quilt blocks, each with the life story of a victim of a fatal workplace injury.

The quilt was created by Toronto artist Laurie Swim who wanted to create a permanent work of art to honour young people killed at work. The Friends of the LifeQuilt committee are looking for donations and support so they can take the quilt on the road to raise awareness of the dangers facing young workers. For more information call (800) 669-4939.

Stories behind the stats

At www.youngworkerquilt.ca the stories of the young workers and their deaths are told by family and friends. Below are some excerpts.

Dwight Peel, 17
Onoway, Alberta

On June 27, 1998, two days after his 17th birthday, my precious son made headlines throughout Alberta. Not because he won some select sports tournament, not because he heroically saved someone else’s life; Dwight made headlines because Dwight’s life was horribly taken. Dwight died an ugly and violent death when a tire he was checking the pressure on at work exploded into his beautiful face. The force of the explosion was such that it projected Dwight against a wall ten feet away. The force of the explosion was such that it ripped my heart from my chest and blew a gaping hole into our family that will never be fixed. All because a company chose not to care. The loss of our precious son is devastating enough but knowing how easily preventable his death was is too much to bear. We are not some Third World country; this is Canada and our young people deserve guaranteed safety and security in every workplace. I pray this LifeQuilt will make some companies re-evaluate how they do things, before they add any more precious faces and pain-filled stories to another LifeQuilt.

Brett A. Anderson, 21
Edmonton, Alberta

On February 19, 1997, Brett was adjusting the tracking of a conveyor belt on an industrial wood grinder. He was working underneath the equipment, just below the grinder’s drive shaft. While performing this work, Brett became entangled in the rotating drive shaft. By the time he was pulled out, he was dead. Although the equipment manual specified that it must be shut down before starting maintenance, company procedures were to keep the drive shaft and conveyor belt running while making final adjustments, to ensure the tracking remained true.

Giuseppe (Joey) Bussoli, 21
Vaughan, Ontario

On May 8, 2000, Giuseppe was struck by a front-end loader. It was his third month of work. This tragedy could have been prevented if the work area had been marked appropriately and if workers had proper training.

Dwayne Danielson, 24
Regina, Saskatchewan

Dwayne died on May 20, 1993, after the forklift he was driving went off a bridge and landed in a creek, trapping him under water. It was later determined the tractor was not roadworthy. Dwayne was a well-liked, fun loving, caring man. He was an inspiration to his brother Joe.

Gilbert Eduard Lima, 25
Zorra Township, Ontario

Gilbert Lima was killed in a London area quarry on July 25, 1999. The day he was killed, Gilbert was finishing the fourth day of his work cycle, four 15-hour consecutive shifts followed by four days off. Although it was not part of his job, he was helping co-workers adjust the conveyor mechanism attached to a stone crusher. Without manufacturer’s instructions, they struggled to align the conveyor that was perilously perched on a tripod jack without backup support. As Gilbert went underneath the conveyor, it slipped and struck him on the head, killing him immediately.

Felice D’Ascanio, 19
Etobicoke, Ontario

On Sept. 23, 1998, just his third day on the job, Felice was struck in the head by part of a skid, a wooden platform used to move crates. He was especially happy on the morning of Sept. 23, 1998, as he was to purchase his first car after work that day. We miss him more and more each and every day.

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