Podcast Title: Health and Safety to Go!
Episode #: 118: Injured on the Job: Amber Hiuser’s Road to Recovery
Introduction Welcome to Health and Safety to Go, broadcasting from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
Host: Thank you for joining us for this episode of Health and Safety to Go. Our guest today is Amber Hiuser from Threads for Life. Amber is personally acquainted with workplace tragedy having sustained an injury when she was a young worker. Just in time for the National Day of Mourning, Amber's here today to share her personal story to help spread awareness about the importance of workplace safety. Thank you for joining us today Amber.
Amber: Thanks for having me.
Host: Amber, would you mind sharing your personal experience with our listeners?
Amber: Yes, when I was 18, I had sort of my first full-time job, which was a night shift as a machine operator. I was working towards my Co-op. I was two months on the job and I was using an integrated steel bit chop saw when my hand became entangled with the blade. It severed two of my fingers on my left hand. I received a full thickness skin graft to one of my fingers, which my hand was surgically attached to my abdominal for three weeks.
I also had a permanent screw to hold the joints together. I had three surgeries and one included a joint release which was ultimately unsuccessful. Another end result was 14% disfigurement, permanent nerve damage for both fingers and minimal range of motion. Today tasks, like buttons, gripping at my steering wheel and when I play sports holding a bat, they all proved to be challenging for me.
I'm lucky to be here to share the experience with you, but unfortunately not too many of us are.
Host: How did your injury impact you and your family after the accident?
Amber: For me personally, it definitely created a large fear and I did end up having post-traumatic stress disorder and I had to seek some counseling and was able to recover from that. As for my parents, they definitely struggled dealing with having a child that was injured in the workforce, feeling a guilt. As it stands today, they're still suffering and they are still seeking counseling and how to grieve, almost a child being injured in the workplace.
Today my children don't even know anything about my injury, as they are too small, but they'll probably know in the future as they see I do some things differently. Sometimes I use different utensils while eating, grip things a little bit differently and I just have my own way to adapt.
Host: What lessons did you learn from this experience that you wish to pass down to younger generations and to new workers in general?
Amber: Well, my best advice is to trust your instinct. If you feel like you're being pressured into work that you really have no idea what to do, or even if it's safe at all, just ask someone you trust to maybe explain it or just let someone know that you don't know. Generally other workers do speak the truth about a company and if you aren't sure the company has your safety in mind, it's not worth the paycheck. Trust me.
Host: If you could give one piece of advice to a new or young worker about safety on the job, what would it be?
Amber: Get involved, either try to be on your health and safety or just have conversations with other co-workers. Try to listen to some stories and find out if they've ever been really close to having a workplace injury or if they know anyone who was affected by a tragedy. Try making a change in your workplace. Better yet, why don't you just be the change? You know, safety goes both ways - the employee and the employer. We both have a right to be safe and to keep each other safe.
Host: Before we wrap up, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to leave us with?
Amber: Being a part of Threads of Life has not only helped me through lots of the challenges that come with being a worker involved in a workplace injury, it's also really helped me grow and develop and share my story with others, that has truly impacted them and really made a difference. Over the years, Threads of Life has grown and I'm proud to be a part of them. Yet unfortunately, we're a group where we don't want to have a large number of members, but we're always willing to help and support those who are in need.
Host: Thank you again for sharing your story with us today. Amber Hiuser is 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 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!
Conclusion by Host: Thank you again for sharing your story with us today. Amber Hiuser is 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 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.