Jason Anker went to work as usual on a construction site in 1993 and was tasked with carrying out some work on the roof of a building.
The work was expected to take two hours but his team was asked to do it in one.
Climbing up and down a ladder to reach the roof, Jason felt that something was not quite right.
The ladder did not feel secure and he realised the work might not be safe.
In a decision he would come to regret, he ignored his concerns, and shortly after, the ladder slipped.
The fall was 10-foot-high and although Jason only felt winded, he quickly realised he couldn’t feel his legs.
Following several tests at the hospital, Jason was told he had fractured his vertebrae and was paralysed from the waist down.
He would never walk again.
But that wasn’t the end of Jason’s story.
The accident had a detrimental effect on not only his own life, but that of his friends and family.
His young marriage soon broke down and his wife and two young children left.
He was unable to work or even join his friends for a game of football.
Jason soon turned to drink and eventually drugs.
An accidental drug overdose in 1995 left Jason in a coma, fighting for his life.
When he awoke 17 days later, Jason had suffered brain damage, leaving him with memory and speech issues.
It was at this point that Jason, realising he needed to make some drastic changes, decided to turn his life around.
Some years after his accident, Jason founded a company called Proud2bSafe and now travels around the UK to share his story with businesses and employees.
Proud2bSafe works with organisations as part of their health and safety initiatives to bring safety training to life though a mixture of powerful talks, resources, and workshops.
By sharing his own very personal and powerful story, Jason and his team of speakers support Proud2bSafe member organisations to help staff take responsibility for their own safety, gain a better understanding of why health and safety measures are in place and give them the courage to speak up if something is wrong.
Looking back at the event, Jason recognises that the accident was entirely preventable.
Jason could have raised his concerns with his supervisor, but instead he said nothing, partly out of embarrassment and fear of losing his job.
Many employees think that an accident won’t happen to them and fail to recognise the impact an accident can have on their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Hearing Jason’s story has already inspired many UK employees to take safety seriously and speak up when something feels unsafe, and the same lessons hold true for their Kiwi counterparts.
Key lessons: employees
- If something feels unsafe or you notice a hazard, stop working and report it to a supervisor immediately
- Recognise that accidents can happen to anyone and cutting corners puts you more at risk. If you don’t think a job can be carried out safely in the time frame given or even at all, do not carry out the work and inform your employer
- Don’t be afraid to speak to colleagues if you notice them working unsafely. If they continue to work in an unsafe manner, report it to a supervisor.
Key lessons: employers
- Carry out risk assessments before a task is delegated. If a hazard is identified, take the appropriate steps to reduce or remove the risk before sending an employee to carry out the work
- Do not place unrealistic or unsafe time pressures on employees
- Encourage your employees to speak up and reinforce the message that speaking to their supervisor over safety concerns is encouraged and there will be no negative consequences for doing so
- Create a positive safety culture through leadership and discussion
- Provide dynamic risk assessment training so your employees can identify risk as they work
- Consider anonymous reporting methods.