My best friend was killed in a work-related incident in August of 2008. He was 26 years old.
It is both easy and difficult to reflect on that day and the way that my life has been impacted since. Easy, because the memories are so clear and forever printed in my mind, but difficult because the wound on my heart is deep and the healing process is, well, slow. Very slow.
Stephen was working as a lineman in a suburb of Salt Lake City. When his coworker cut into a live line, he climbed up to help and was struck by the line and fatally electrocuted. At least, that’s how I remember it being told to me. I could never bring myself to read the news story about it—I heard that the scene was grim, and it took quite a long time to bring his body down from the pole.
I remember his casket being extraordinarily heavy as we carried it from the hearse to his final resting place. Even though I was carrying it with five other members of Stephen’s closest friends and family, I knew the heaviness was more than physical. It was the burden of our loss. And although we set the casket down moments after picking it up, I can still feel every ounce of its weight today.
In 2015, I was invited to join Predictive Safety to fill certain writing and researching needs for our new and growing company. I was hesitant at first. Having spent the last several years in higher education, it was quite a leap, as my last experience working outside college and university environments was as a retail employee in my late teens. But I took that leap, because I could see the good that we could do for people in providing them tools and training to keep their work sites safe, whether in a mine, in a factory, in a truck, on a construction site, on a boat, or, even up a utility pole. I thought of Steve, and his memory encouraged me.
In my email inbox every day, I receive newsletters from a variety of industries as well as from OSHA, MSHA, and similar agencies in other countries. These newsletters commonly share reports of safety incidents where someone was grievously injured or even killed, often in horrifying ways. And with each one, I feel a twinge of sad despair because I know firsthand the trauma and grief being suffered by each friend and family member in the moment I am reading of their loss.
It may be impossible to completely eradicate risk of injury from many professions. But many things once thought to be impossible did not remain that way, so our work continues. I will never be able to measure how much good my small role at Predictive Safety does for the hard workers who strive to carve out a life and provide for themselves and their families. But I do know that many of those hard workers are just like my buddy Steve. A lot of them were close to someone who didn’t go home from work one day. If these efforts carry any possibility of doing good and preventing others from suffering the same grief that Steve’s family and friends still struggle with, then the value in our work is clear, and we will persevere.
We want to help your company save lives. Let’s talk about your employees and their needs.