Spinal injuries a real workplace threat

ENERGEX apprentices were told how easily spinal injuries can happen when safety is disregarded as part of a new workplace safety campaign.

Spinal Education Awareness Team (SEAT) presenters, Robert Spencer and Paul Bailey visited ENERGEX’s Greenslopes depot in Queensland to tell their story on the eve of Safe Work Australia Week.

The men, who both have spinal cord injuries, spoke to the group as part of the official launch of workplace injury prevention program ‘SEAT at WORK’.

As a presenter, Robert said SEAT at WORK gave employees an insight into exactly what life is like with spinal cord injuries, rather than dwelling on policies and procedures.

“For many, workplace health and safety talks are often a chore; something they have to sit through on a regular basis. But with SEAT at WORK presentations, we are talking from personal experience and we don’t pull any punches,” he said.

“Everyone says goodbye to their family every morning and expects to come home safely, not in a wheelchair.”

Paul sustained paraplegia in a workplace accident in 2007, while Robert acquired quadriplegia in a sporting accident 34 years ago.

Operated by the Spinal Injuries Association, SEAT at WORK helps to raise funds for the schools-based SEAT program that teaches students to be safe. More than 1.4 million Queensland children have seen SEAT since it began 23 years ago.

ENERGEX has supported SEAT at WORK and have committed to annual bookings where a presenter will speak to apprentices about the realities of life with a permanent disability.

“The health and safety of staff is the number one value at ENERGEX and we’re very impressed with SEAT at WORK’s contribution to their wellbeing in our apprenticeship program,” ENERGEX’s acting apprentice manager, Casey Sullivan said.

“Their content and delivery is tailored for our future tradespeople to ensure each of them not only know the risks of spinal injury, but also the long-term consequences.

“It is SEAT at WORK’s no-holds-barred approach to spinal injury awareness that ensures our apprentices come away from the presentation with long lasting practical advice they can use for the rest of their career.”

Spinal Injuries Association CEO, Mark Henley applauded ENERGEX for its continued support of SEAT at WORK.

“The program is largely focused on injury prevention and ideal for people who work in at-risk professions such as the construction, mining, building, utilities and transport sectors,” Mr Henley said.

Of people who sustain a work-related spinal cord injury, up to 70 per cent never return to work.

“However, road trauma is also the number one cause of all spinal cord injuries in Queensland and as we all travel to and from our workplace each day, we’re all susceptible to sustaining this type of injury,” Mr Henley said.

“Split-second decisions such as speeding or talking or texting on your mobile while in the car can have lifetime consequences – a lifetime of using a wheelchair.”