| IAPA Press Releases
( Word Count: 689 )
|June 2, 2009
Surviving summer – the tragic story of an injured young worker
He wanted to earn some extra spending money. Instead, he earned himself a trip to the hospital, a body full of scars, and a story that no one should have to tell.
Like many other 16 year olds, Eric Olivieri got himself a summer job. Like many other kids his age, he left for work not bothering to say goodbye to his mom, avoided talking to his sisters, and blew off his dad’s wishes to have a good day when he got dropped off at work. Eric was your average teenager. Sadly, like 42,000 other kids his age, Eric suffered a workplace injury. 1
The school year is winding to a close and a flood of young workers are preparing to enter the workforce. This is an exciting time for young people, but also a time of increased risk. Eric Olivieri learned this lesson the hard way.
On August 13, 2007, Eric arrived at his summer job full of enthusiasm, ready to step in where needed. He did just that and was crushed by a 10 tonne piece of industrial equipment. Eric shattered his upper arm, blew out his bicep and triceps, broke his pelvis, broke his femur, shattered his knee, and was stabbed in the neck. In a matter of seconds, Eric’s world was turned upside down. “A guy jumped on top of me to stop the bleeding. I felt tired and peaceful. I thought I was dying,” recalled Eric. He received six blood transfusions that day and almost lost his leg. Doctors told him he may never walk again.
For months, Eric was bedridden while he recovered from his injuries. Normally a very active person, this was a devastating reality. “It felt like someone pressed pause on a remote and placed me on a shelf. I was forced to lay there and watch while everything else whizzed by. I lost a whole year of my life,” explains Eric. The accident sidelined his ability to be a normal kid. While he recovered he missed playing hockey, competing in paintball tournaments, attending school, social outings with friends, and getting his driver’s license.
Eric, now 18 and beating the odds with his recovery, hopes his story can reach young workers, parents, and employers and prevent someone from suffering a similar fate. “People need to realize that there are thousands of jobs out there, but you only have one life. So what if you get fired, you don’t want a job that could cost you your life.”
Eric now knows that all Ontario workers have the right to refuse unsafe work and wishes he would have known and believed that the day he was injured. “Something about helping move that piece of equipment didn’t feel right. There were bells going off in my head, but I didn’t listen to them,” says Eric. “I wanted to pull my weight and didn’t want the other workers to see that I was scared. I now wish I hadn’t wanted to be so cool.”
Many people would have sat and felt sorry for themselves after surviving a workplace injury, but Eric remained positive and decided to use his situation to help others. “After surviving this accident, I wanted nothing more than to protect others from going through this. I want people to know that they have a right to a safe workplace, and that asking questions, receiving proper training, and knowing the risks of your job are essential to arriving home alive,” says Eric.
He began his quest to educate people on workplace safety during a speaking engagement at the IAPA Health & Safety Canada 2009 Youth Forum. His presentation was an eye-opener to the more than 2,000 students in attendance, as he recalled his injury, the thoughts that went through his mind before, during, and after the incident, his recovery, and the lessons that he learned along the way. His taped presentation can be viewed in its entirety by visiting the IAPA website at http://www.iapa.ca/young.
Help Eric make a difference and save someone from a workplace injury. Share his video and use resources available on the IAPA website (www.iapa.ca) to prepare workers for a safe work experience.
Submitted by IAPA (Industrial Accident Prevention Association), a not-for-profit organization operating in Ontario since 1917. Representing more than 50,000 member firms and in excess of 1.5 million Ontario workers, IAPA is Canada’s leader in workplace health, safety, and employee well-being.
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To access Eric’s taped presentation, photos, and captions please visit the IAPA website at http://www.iapa.ca/main/about_iapa/2009_junex_press.aspx. If you intend to broadcast the video and require a higher quality video file, a DVD copy for your use can be arranged.
For additional information or to arrange an interview with Eric and/or an IAPA spokesperson on young workers, please contact:
Manager, Corporate Communications
IAPA (Industrial Accident Prevention Association)
Tel: 905-614-4272, ext. 2437
ATTENTION MEDIA: IAPA is now accepting applications for the 2010 IAPA Russ Ramsay Media Awards for Excellence in Health and Safety Reporting. Visit the IAPA website (http://www.iapa.ca/Main/Outreach/ramsay_award.aspx) to learn more about the award.