Speed Takes Another Life

Speed Takes Another Life, And He Was My Friend

 How many times have you heard or even said “A life can be snuffed out in a blink of an eye”.  I myself have used it a number of times over the years to stress on a point in a toolbox or full-out safety meeting. But did I really understand what I was saying. I never really understood what safety was until I wasn't paying attention a number of years ago when in my early 30s I suffered such an injury I was sidelined for a year. Now I truly understand just how quick a life can be lost due to a personal lose. 

On Feb 3rd, 2017 at 1;15 am, the Abbotsford police and firefighters were called to the 2800 block of Ash Street for a single car accident. The driver, a 48-year-old man was in serious grave danger when he was pulled him out of the Honda Civic. He was taken to hospital where he lost the battle for life and succumbed to his injuries. It being suggested he was speeding. The road is a 30km/h street however the posted sign was not visible at all. He knew what speed does, He was a flagger for a road maintenance company and traveled all over the province. 

I knew  Marshall Joseph Francis for over 30 years. We grew up together on the wrong side of the tracks by choice in Whalley, a subsection of Surrey British Columbia.  He was a good kid back then. Never got into any real serious trouble. But we still had a lot of fun, and now he’s gone.  Another life snuffed out in a blink of an eye. 

A blink, that’s how quick it can happen.  You might even see it coming and be totally powerless to do a damn thing about it after the event has begun. My colleagues and I in the Occupational Health and Safety field drive this fact home almost every day.  In fact one of my favorite sayings is ‘Ask yourself one question before every task….”What Can go Wrong” and there is the beginning of a Risk Assessment, a JSA, a Hazard Analyses, and FLHA * FLRA.  I hate to speculate, but clearly his mind was not in the game and it cost my friend his life. 

So what do I do now. Well as an OH&S professional I take this ultimate negative,  turn it around and I use it. I speak about it on site, in tool boxes and tailgates, in full site safety meetings. Once again a construction worker dies. Off the job and on personal time, but he was one of us. I will miss my friend tremendously. His smile and jokes would take a person from the worst mood and brighten his day. 

How do we learn from this. The lesson is so clear. “SPEED KILLS“. It doesn’t matter what you are doing. You could be operating a lift truck, swinging a load from a crane, trenching out a cut for piping or even just walking while packing your tools. Slow down, be aware of your surroundings, and who is around you. Do your due diligence when it comes to the assorted assignments and analysis of the task, hazards,  and risks to yourself and others. Remember it not just your right to refuse unsafe work, it is your responsibility. If you blindly charge at a task because your behind or others are ahead and your being asked to kick it up a gear, DON’T. That’s when things get missed and shortcuts become a factor into your job.  The life you save could not only be yours, It could be somebody’s mom or  dad who is working right beside you and in the same danger zone.

Think before you do and ask YOURSELF the question…”WHAT COULD GO WRONG”

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Posted in Construction Safety.


View posts by mikew@freebirdsafetyservices.ca

With several years in Construction, a vast amount in Masonry, when I turned 40 it was time for a change. Occupational Health and Safety was a calling I wish I discovered when I was younger. With over 30 years experience now in the trades, I have a knowledge base I wish to pass on.

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