Former free-style skier and coach Mike Shaw now speaks to young workers and employers about safety on the job.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News.

‘Listen to your gut’ urges injured skier

Mike Shaw was told he’d never walk again after an accident four years ago, but he defied the odds

When Mike Shaw talks to young people about staying safe in their daily lives and in the workplace, he stresses three things—listen to your gut, speak up and look and think.

Four years ago, the former competitive free-style skier and coach didn’t do any of those things as he demonstrated a ski jump to the young skiers he was coaching and, in his words, it changed his life forever.

Shaw fell doing a routine jump he had landed hundreds of times before and broke his neck. He was told he would never walk again. He was 26-years-old.

But, miraculously, in less than two years he was not only back on his feat, he ran 10 kilometres and even made it back onto skies—albeit not competitively or not making jumps.

While competitive skiing and the aerial flips he once did with ease were now just memories for Shaw—who lives in Lake Country and originally hails from Vernon—he now shares his story and helps advise young people about risk, urging them to be aware of safety on the job.

“When I was 26, I felt I had the world figured out,” he said Friday during a safety conference in Kelowna for employers. “I was wrong. You never plan for a spinal chord injury. Life can be random.”

He said it is possible to handle risk and come out safe on the other side. But you have to be smart about it.

And it’s also important that employers listen to their young workers when concerns about safety are raised.

While he urges the people he talks to to trust in their capabilities, and says we are all capable of whatever we put our minds to with the right planning, preparation and training, we need to be smart about how we deal with risk.

If properly thought out, and with the properly developed skills, he says there is high percentage that tasks that contain a degree of risk can be undertaken safely. But it requires work.

“Safety rules are usually made to keep people safe because someone has already been hurt doing that thing in the past,” he said.

“We can educate kids to know the rules but we must develop a sense of personal awareness in them too.”

That’s where his “listen to your gut” advice comes in.

“That little voice inside will never steer you wrong,” said Shaw. He admits he wished he had listened to his gut moments before his accident. It was telling him there was something wrong that day on the ski slope four years ago as he approached the jump.

He said if young workers have questions or concerns, they should feel encouraged to ask and express them. And their bosses need to be open to that, and to listen, as well as acknowledge their workers needs and provide solutions.

Earlier this year, Shaw spoke at the annual North Okanagan Labour Council’s Day of Mourning in Kelowna, an event held to remember workers lost on the job.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



awaters@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna mayoral candidates stick to their election scripts

Incumbent Colin Basran touts record, challenger Tom Dyas questions Basran’s leadership

Public tokers to be singed with fines in West Kelowna

West Kelowna passes bylaw to fine anyone that smokes cannabis in public $500

Experts gather to discuss Okanagan water needs

Kelowna environmental water flows conference Oct. 17-18 has global reach

UBC Okanagan nursing students host gala fundraising event

Medical clinics in Ghana and Zambia will benefit from the gala

UBC Okanagan welcomes alumni and the community to campus event

Homecoming is a chance to rediscover and reconnect with the campus

Sunny skies for the week ahead

Environment Canada is forecasting clear skies for the Okanagan and Shuswap

In Florida, families seeking the missing amid storm damage

Five days after the hurricane slammed into the Florida Panhandle, people are struggling to locate friends and loved ones.

Prince Harry and Meghan start Aussie tour with baby gifts

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on a 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

EU’s Barnier hopes Brexit deal possible in ‘coming weeks’

Britain is set to leave the European Union in March, but a Brexit agreement must be sealed in coming weeks to leave enough time for relevant parliaments to ratify it.

Earth samples show dust from B.C. pipeline blast not a health threat: Enbridge

Enbridge says earth sampling shows mineral and metal composition is well below provincial and federal standards for urban and residential areas.

Postal services ready for looming wave of legal cannabis deliveries

Legal cannabis is set to usher in a wave of high-value, age-restricted parcels in the mail system, and delivery companies say they’re ready.

Mega Millions prize of $654M is nation’s 4th-largest

No one has won the U.S. jackpot in almost three months

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Most Read