Threads of Life presentation leaves a deep impression on workers

No job is worth dying for.

That’s the message C.K. DesGrosseilliers wanted workers to take back to the job with them following a recent injury prevention presentation at the nearly completed, twin-high-rise project at Eglinton Ave. and Don Mills Rd.

DesGrosseilliers, a volunteer speaker with Threads of Life – a national registered charity dedicated to supporting families after a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease as well as preventing such incidences – was invited to speak to workers on behalf of Lindvest vice-president Michoel Klugmann.

The usually bustling Sonic Condos construction project was unnervingly quiet for 45 minutes when DesGrosseilliers recalled how her brother, Tim, was killed after being crushed by a piece of falling equipment while working in a downtown Toronto elevator shaft on Sept. 8, 2017. In 2017, her brother became one of the roughly 1000 Canadians who die each year as a result of work-related injuries and illness. Thousands more experience life-altering workplace injuries.

That fateful day, DesGrosseilliers said her brother wasn’t even supposed to work; a planned day off was cancelled so he decided to go into work. Her voice breaking at times, DesGrosseilliers, said Tim was a stickler for safety but when the correct strapping for the elevator motor was not sent, “he tried to get the job done” even though the crane operator walked off the job due to safety concerns. She said her brother had raised safety concerns about the site in the past. “Tim hated the job site…he probably wanted to get the job done and over with – so he tried to do the job with other strapping” she said. “He should have stopped. He should have done what the crane operator did and walked off,” she said. “These buildings will stand for decades – if not centuries – the job can wait an afternoon. You have a right to go home safe,” she told dozens of trade workers gathered in the lobby of the project.

“This event is in support of a very wonderful organization,” said Klugmann, who handed over a cheque for $2,500 to Threads of Life. Threads of Life was created in 2003 to fill a major gap in Canada’s health and safety and social systems and to bring hope and healing to Canadian families affected by a workplace tragedy. Their network of family members and corporate partners believes traumatic workplace injuries, occupational diseases and deaths are preventable. Last year, 8,400 people across Canada heard directly from Threads of Life family members why workplace safety matters. Much of their work is accomplished by volunteers, like DesGrosseilliers.

The project’s Senior site superintendent Andy Iadinardi said he believes DesGrosseilliers injury prevention message resonated with workers. “I believe the message got through that life is fragile and the decisions we make or fail to make can be the difference between life and death. In the construction industry, you can’t take nothing, not even the most menial tasks, for granted. I am a firm believer that when the upper management structure establishes from the beginning a positive culture of safety, those attitudes towards compliance and doing things the correct and safe way, will rub off on others,” Iadinardi said.

Roger Tickner, CEO and president of Tickner and Associates, whose health and safety compliance company oversees health and safety at the Sonic project said, “There was an important message of inspiration in the message today. Safety doesn’t take time off. We always need to put our personal safety and the safety of our team ahead of risk.”