Witness to a horrible accident, one word is key to prevention

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As a safety video producer, my hope is that the content we develop helps send important messages to prevent accidents occurring. We can write scripts based on case studies or ‘what if’ scenarios, but nothing quite prepares you for seeing an accident first hand.

A little while back, I witnessed a really nasty accident that left me quite shaken. I was doing the usual Saturday swimming lesson run with my 3 year old. As we got out of the car I heard some commotion in the distance, a woman’s loud shriek and some banging. I turned around to see a man on the roof of his house trying to clutch to the chimney and gain a footing. But that second I turned around, I saw him fall head first onto the concrete below.

I grabbed my son and started running towards the house, another guy saw my worried face and followed, not knowing what was going on. As we ran, the ladies voice became hysterical, screaming for help. From what I had seen in the distance and her reaction I thought of the very worst outcome.

When we reached their padlocked gate, we could see him motionless on the ground, his wife very distressed. Luckily the guy who followed me jumped over the gate while I called 000 for an ambulance immediately. We really had no idea what condition he was in, but after a little while I could see his legs moving, and he was half conscious. Within 5 minutes, the ambulance had arrived and the situation had become clearer – he had a severely broken arm and gashes to his head, but he was conscious and communicating. Once the paramedics took over, they told us that everything was under control. Honestly, from what I saw and his wife’s reaction, I thought this would be so much worse. Thankfully my three year was unaware of the commotion, unable to see anything behind the gate and we made our way on.

This would be one of the rare times I’ve actually witnessed an accident of this nature. I’ve been producing safety training videos for businesses for 20 years, writing scenarios like this to educate workers on the importance of safety. You can only imagine what workers go through witnessing scenes like this in any kind of workplace.

It’s seems a coincidence that earlier that week we had just signed off on producing a new safety video series for a construction company. They don’t want a standard safety video, they need a video that is hard-hitting and emotional, to really engage the workers to think about their actions. There was no particular procedure we needed to showcase, instead we needed to show the importance of using the best judgement in workplaces. The accident I’ve described very much falls in line with this mindset.

While the videos we produce all have important messages and procedures to follow, there is always a common theme.  In any situation where there is a potential risk, whether it’s 20 storey’s high on a building site, working around traffic, working in the extreme heat or fixing the roof of your home – always use your common sense to assess the dangers. Training is one thing, but everyone has an obligation to think and act safely.

We can educate, instruct and demonstrate safety practices, but it’s always up to the individual to ensure their actions don’t result in an injury, or worse, to themselves or others around them.

I don’t know the circumstances as to why this man was on his roof, with his wife holding the ladder below. Why didn’t he have safety gear on? Could he have hired a professional? Did he need to put himself and his wife in danger? I suspect that he may have landed on top of her as a second ambulance was also called in.

While it was still a very nasty injury, thankfully the outcome was better than my initial thoughts. But the couple’s mental scars will remain for some time, not to mention a long recovery period.

A common safety statement I see in workplaces is Stop & Think – but it could be just the one word….


If you would like to discuss how video content can help deliver your safety message, please get in touch.

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