Safety in the workplace will be in the spotlight Friday in Kelowna when a former competitive freestyle skier, who survived a near-death workplace incident as a skiing coach, tells his story at the go2HR Tourism and Hospitality Occupational Health and Safety Summit.
Mike Shaw, will speak about the importance of safety at work and understanding rights and responsibilities on the job.
In 2013, at 27, Shaw was performing a routine trick when he landed badly and dislocated his neck, paralyzing him from the neck down. He said he knew right away what had happened.
“I was wondering why I couldn’t stop sliding down the hill or get up and then it hit me—a hard hit to the face followed by a sharp pain in my neck. I knew instantly I was paralyzed,” said Shaw
He recalls his instinct was to not make the jump.
“On the way into the jump, I [felt] a gut-sinking feeling. My instincts were telling me something was wrong, I heard my inner voice telling me not to go, but I ignored it.”
Following surgery, Shaw entered intensive rehab, and was told he would probably never walk again. But he was determined to get back on his feet and get back his independence. Within four months, he was back on snow in a sit-ski. On the one-year anniversary of his crash, Mike stepped back into the same pair of skis he’d been on 365 days before, surrounded by friends and supporters.
Now, Shaw shares his story at schools and workplaces throughout the province as part of WorkSafeBC’s Young Worker Speaker Program.
Earlier this year, Shaw told his story at the North Okanagan Labour Council’s annual Day of Mourning ceremony in Kelowna to remember those who have died on the job in B.C.
WorkSafeBC continues to focus prevention efforts on young workers, concentrating on industries that pose the highest risk to youth, partnering with employer associations, organized labour, government, parents, community groups, and employment centres to increase awareness of young-worker health and safety issues.
In 2016, more than 6,500 young workers in B.C. were injured at work – a total of 13 per cent of all workers injured in the province.
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