Podcast Title: Health and Safety to Go!
Episode #104: Wally Power: Overcoming a Workplace Injury
Introduction: Welcome to Health and Safety to Go, a production of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, broadcasting from Hamilton, Ontario.
Host: Thank you for joining us for this episode of Health and Safety to Go. Our guest today is Wally Power from Threads for Life. Wally is personally acquainted with workplace tragedy having been severely injured while working at a pulp mill in Nova Scotia when he was just a young worker. Just in time for the National Day of Mourning, Wally is here today to share his personal story to help spread awareness about the importance of workplace safety. Thank you for joining us today Wally.
Wally: Thank you for having me.
Host: Wally, would you mind sharing your personal experience with our listeners?
Wally: Sure. I started working in a pulp mill when I was around 21 years old. I worked in that mill for about 1.5 years in a wood preparation department where the debarked pulpwood and chipped it up for pulp processing. One evening. when I was working on a pulp peeling machine (inaudible) it was called. The switching system was not well-suited for the operation, as two machine switches were right alongside of each other on a catwalk above the machines and my machine was accidentally started by a co-worker and my right arm was amputated at the elbow.
Host: Wally, how did your injury impact you and your family after the accident?
Wally: Well, all of a sudden sort of overnight, you lose your right arm and your right handed, so you quickly have to adapt to using only your left hand. To sort of get a picture of what I had to go through, try holding your own right hand in your pocket for an hour or so and you'll quickly understand what I was faced with.
There was sort of an upside to this story, I met my wife to be in the hospital during my 18-day stay, that was another major change in my life, a good change.
Host: What lessons did you learn from this experience that you wish to pass down to younger generations?
Wally: Well, if you have a mishap like I did, for example and you really can't change anything. In other words, you can't put the arm back. I found it was best to keep a positive attitude and carry on with life. And don't get me wrong, there were a lot of frustrating days back then, but it does get better.
Host: If you could give one piece of advice to a new or young worker about safety on the job, what would it be?
Wally: Well, I think stay focused on what you're doing at all times and I think we should all be responsible for each other's safety in the workplace. Accidents can happen very quickly.
Host: Wally before we wrap up, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to leave us with?
Wally: Well, as a result of the accident, I became very involved in safety and in the labour movement 30 years or more as Compensation Chair from a union. I spent six and a half years on the Board of Directors with the Workers Compensation Board of Nova Scotia. I chaired WCB committee at the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour and now Director for Threads of life in Canada, and I'm supposed to be retired. So we just keep going I guess.
Host: Thank you again for sharing your story with us today. Wally Power is a Director and a speaker for Threads of Life, an organization that helps families of workplace tragedy along their journey of healing by providing unique family support programs and services.
Every year thousands of people across Canada walk in the Steps for Life fundraising event that follows the Day of Mourning and kicks off Health and Safety Week in North America. More information can be found at www.stepsforlife.ca and www.ccohs.ca. Thanks for listening everyone