Podcast Title: Health and Safety to Go!


Episode #: 130:  Day of Mourning: Elaine Keunen’s Story



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 Elaine Keunen, a public speaker for Threads of Life.   Threads of Life is a Canadian registered charity dedicated to supporting families after a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease.


Elaine is a registered nurse specializing in neural trauma and emergency medicine and also operates a multi-generational dairy farm with her family in Caistor, Ontario. Elaine is a mom to three children, a daughter and twin sons  In 2014, their lives were changed forever by a workplace tragedy. She's here today to share her special story to help spread awareness about the importance of workplace safety. Thank you for joining us today Elaine.


Elaine:   Thank you for having me Chris.


Host:  Would you mind sharing with us your experience?


Elaine:  Certainly, on September 26 2014 my 17-year-old son Adam left for the morning, he was actually a set at a co-op placement. This was his first week on the job at an auto recycling facility in our community.  That morning we’re not really sure of the circumstances of what actually occurred.  Two and a half years later we still don't have full confirmation as to what actually happened. But somehow my son ended up underneath the rear wheel of a pay loader and was killed instantly of a massive head injury.


Host:  Why do you think it's important to support families who have been affected by a workplace tragically like yours?


Elaine:  The grief from dealing with an injury like this is lifelong. I can tell you from my own experience that this has a devastating effect on the family.  It affects every component of your lives and it's not something that you just get over. It's going to be with you for the rest of your life. It changes everything, your whole dynamics of your family from either that death of that worker or even a life altering injury or disease. It affects you daily. It's not something that goes away.


So that's why the work of Threads of life is so important, just having the support knowing that you don't walk this journey alone is so important.


Host:   If you could give a piece of advice to a new or young worker about safety on the job, what would that be?


Elaine:  It's to always be aware.  Try to get whatever training you can possibly get, to not be afraid to stand up when you think that something is wrong.  Always trust your gut instinct, if it feels wrong to you it probably is.


Host:  Yes, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to leave us?


Elaine: Every worker in Ontario has the right to return home safely to their family. Unfortunately, this isn't reality. We know that every day in Canada, three workers aren't going to return home. And this is absolutely unacceptable, statistics and its really sad that these workers become a statistic.  Their lives have meaning, their lives, they have families, they have dreams that are shattered by that workplace injury.  It's something we need to be aware of. This is something that we need to work hard with in our province, within our country to try to change.


Host:   Thank you for sharing your story with us today. Elaine Keunen 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 the Day of Mourning and kicks off Health and Safety Week in North America.


On Sunday, May 7th, CCOHS will be participating in the Hamilton Steps for Life event on Hamilton's waterfront.  More information and Steps for Life walk locations across Canada can be found at www.stepsforlife.ca and www.ccohs.ca


Thanks for listening everyone.