It can be easy to take our way of life and our abilities for granted.
A tragedy can make those who experienced it keenly aware of what has been lost.
But another way we can become aware is through stories. Hearing others describe their loss can remind us to minimize risks we face.
As Canadians prepare to mark National Day of Mourning on April 28, there is a documentary that raises awareness in a powerful way.
Some profound stories were shared in “Before Day’s End”, released in 2012 after being commissioned by CLAC (Christian Labour Association of Canada).
Each of the men’s stories has something in common.
It was a typical day on the job. Work was going smoothly until an unexpected moment of disaster.
A tree faller tells his story of being dragged by a piece of equipment. A concrete form worker had his life changed by a pin not being properly threaded into a hole. A pipeline foreman lost a limb when he slipped and was run over. A labourer had his feet crushed as he was disassembling a structure.
“Accidents change your life. Whether you are the person who is permanently injured and disabled or you were a person wounded emotionally by a traumatic event, it does change you,” said Brad, a grief counsellor interviewed for the documentary.
“It makes you much more alert to safety issues.”
Being injured made Steve, Mike, Brad, and Herb highly aware that being carefree is a luxury that evaporates when you get injured on the job. The lives they built for themselves are no longer possible because of the serious injuries they experienced.
“What’s more depressing or sad is how people in life take things for granted,” said Steve.
“We take for granted that we can breathe on our own … We take for granted we can take food and drinks in our mouth. We take for granted we can get out of bed every day. We take for granted we can walk.”
For Dave and Barb, their loss made them aware we can’t take for granted the people we love. Today, they have memories, but no longer have their son Kyle after he suffocated when a piece of equipment pinned him.
Those who tell their stories are proof that tragedies can happen to anyone.
“I’ve made that mistake, but I realize that I can learn from that mistake and grow. In my case, I can grow and try to hopefully share that with other people,” said Steve.
The documentary doesn’t blame anyone for the tragedies. But it does remind viewers that tragedies can be avoided, sparing workers and their families the aftermath.
Its advice for those in high-risk jobs is simple.
Slow down. Trust your gut. And get home safe.