As Mark Johnson stands in front of a classroom of teenage students, he’s reminded of the carelessness of his youth and hopes that by listening to his story, they won’t make the same mistakes.
When Johnson was 21 years old, he was cleaning scraps of wood from underneath a conveyor belt at his job when his left arm got stuck in a moving roller. When he was finally rescued, his left arm had been pulled from its socket – kept together only by skin.
Today, as part of WorkSafeBC’s Speakers Program, Johnson, now 28, shares his experience with high school students and stresses the importance of worker safety. He spoke to students at Burnsview Secondary School on Dec. 4.
“I was the type of the person that said that kind of stuff (injuries) doesn’t happen to people like me, and I was very wrong,” said Johnson.
He feels he would have benefitted from a talk like his when he had been in school. By putting a human face on the risks, Johnson believes it sends a stronger message.
“There’s a little bit of shock and awe from students, but until they actually see somebody and how it’s affected them, they don’t really take safety seriously,” said Johnson. “I’m a real person and I go in there and show them my arm.”
While doctors were able to save his arm, he has limited shoulder and wrist movement.
WorkSafeBC statistics show that although the overall injury rate for young workers has improved in recent years, 6,650 young workers were injured on the job in 2014.
Personal safety and responsibility are two aspects that Johnson feels don’t get enough attention from young workers, particularly because they don’t ask or think about it.
“Kids don’t think of questions. If they’re told to do something, they don’t even think of safety, they just do it because they were told too,” said Johnson.
Johnson feels that by turning a negative into a positive, he will help more people.
“I tell everyone that my injury is my fault and the repercussions of my injury are my fault,” said Johnson. “Now I have a positive attitude and want to share my experience.”
For more information about youth job safety, visit http://bit.ly/1NXS9Pa