Around the turn of the century a father told me this
“My son was 19 years old and he was killed in an accident in a small warehouse in a suburb of Toronto. In this little shop, it was a small business with only 4 or 5 people there. He got the job through a friend whose Father ran the business. It was the second or third day on the job and he was asked to go back and decant some fluid from a large drum to some small vessels. The action violated every OHS regulation in the book. There were multiple ignition sources, there was no grounding. A spark went off and lit up the fumes that went back in the drum and it exploded over my son. He died 24 hours later.”
That father was Canadian, Paul Kells, and this traumatic event set him on a journey to improve safety for young workers. Paul established the Safe Communities Foundation.
Paul has travelled to Australia several times and he has been granted audiences with many OHS regulators but it seems that government of South Australia is the most ardent supporter of Paul’s Passport to Safety program.
Over 5000 students in South Australia have completed the program since 2005 and the government is trying to reach the target of 20,000 teenage students. A sponsorship form is available for download.
SafetyAtWorkBlog supports Paul’s work and the sponsorship initiative of the South Australian government.
This is what the workplace safety ads in Australia are missing, a passionate advocate who speaks about the reality of workplace death and personal loss – someone who has turned grief into a social entrepreneurship. If only this type of inspiration could happen without the cost of a life.
My 2000 interview with Paul is available by clicking on this link kell-interview. It was originally published in SafetyAtWork magazine in February 2001.