Manitoba NAOSH Week


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WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, MAY 1, 2015 Walking for Worker Safety LIFELINE FOR VICTIMS OF WORKPLACE TRAUMA AND TRAGEDY By Holli Moncrieff The annual Steps for Life walk raises funds as well as awareness of workplace safety issues. Photo courtesy of Threads of Life For Tammy Lundgren-Costa, it was just another day at work. Until it wasn't. L undgren-Costa loved her job at a residen- tial treatment facility, where she worked with people who were struggling to over- come addictions. Helping others had always been her calling. "I'd worked really hard to get (a patient) through the 10-day detox, and when he finally completed his 10 days, I was so happy for him," she recalls. When the patient showed up at the residen- tial treatment centre, Lundgren-Costa hurried to let him in. She turned her back on him for only a second, but that was all he needed to change her life forever. "That's when he grabbed me and sexually as- saulted me," she says. "We had no cameras in the stairwell due to patient confidentiality. We had no panic button, no radios. I was completely vulnerable. I had nothing." After the attack, Lundgren-Costa was lost. Unable to work, traumatized, she turned to self- harm and even thought of ending her life. One day, her Workers Compensation Board case- worker suggested Threads of Life might be able to help. Threads of Life is a national charity that provides support services to Canadians affected by a workplace tragedy, life-altering injury, or occupational disease. "It was ultimately what saved my life. There's nothing better than speaking to people who can understand your grief and suffering," Lundgren-Costa says. "Although we're all very different, we're dealing with similar things. I left the first meeting feeling like I actually belonged somewhere." Lundgren-Costa is this year's spokesperson for Threads of Life's annual fundraiser, the Steps for Life Walk, where thousands of people walk five kilometres to honour and support victims of workplace tragedy and their families. Through her group, Walk a Mile in my Moccasins, Lundgren-Costa also helps other survivors by teaching them what she calls "distraction therapy." "I teach them (positive) ways to distract themselves by doing beadwork or leatherwork. I started making mitts and gauntlets, raffling them off, and donating the proceeds to Threads of Life," she explains. "Sometimes I put over a hundred hours into the beadwork. It makes me feel like I have a purpose again." The Manitoba chapter's Steps for Life walk has been growing each year. Last year, the charity wel- comed 300 walkers and raised over $24,000—in- credible when you consider that the first walk held in Manitoba, in 2009, raised $3,000. Every Steps for Life walk has a Memorial Lane with displays of stories and photographs that recognize lives that were lost in workplace tragedies. "Threads of Life is a unique organization," says Veronica Suszynski, co-chair of the Steps for Life walk in Winnipeg. "The founder, Shirley Hickman, lost her son several years ago. She helped create Threads of Life when she found there was no one to help families through the aftermath of a workplace tragedy. She started this organization to help other families." While Manitoba has increased the safety of its workplaces overall, Suszynski says there's still room for improvement. She hopes the walk, which takes place during North American Oc- cupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week, will help raise awareness of the importance of workplace safety. According to statistics from SAFE Work Mani- toba, 4,500 young workers between the ages of 15 and 24 were injured on the job last year. "That's still 4,500 kids, nieces, nephews, and grandkids," says Suszynski. "Anyone who's been affected by a workplace incident knows how it dramatically changes your life." Although Steps for Life is a fundraiser, there is no minimum sponsorship requirement. It costs $15 to register for the walk, which will be held in Winnipeg on May 1 at Kildonan Park. Participants can raise more money for Threads of Life by collecting pledges. All walk- ers can be sponsored online through the Steps for Life website. "This will be a lifetime group for me," Lun- dgren-Costa says. "I always learn new coping skills, and I feel like I'm able to help some of the people there. We hold each other up when we feel like we're going to fall down." To become involved or to get more infor- mation, please visit the Steps for Life website at ACCORDING TO STATISTICS FROM SAFE WORK MANITOBA, 4,500 YOUNG WORKERS BE- TWEEN THE AGES OF 15 AND 24 WERE INJURED ON THE JOB LAST YEAR. Sunday, May 1 Winnipeg Steps for Life Time: 10 a.m. (Registration begins at 10 a.m. Walk begins at 11 a.m.) Location: Kildonan Park - 2015 Main St. Hosting Organization: Threads of Life The Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support, known as Threads of Life, supports the healing journey of families who have suffered from a workplace fatality, traumatic life-altering injury, or occupational disease. Threads of Life currently supports more than 2,200 family members across Canada affected by workplace tragedies. In order to do this, every year Threads of Life hosts its flagship fundraiser‚ Steps for Life: A fun, 5km walk that aims to educate the community about the devastating ripple effects of each workplace tragedy and how we can work together to prevent others being injured or killed on the job. Monday, May 2 Morden/Winkler NAOSH Launch Time: 8:30 a.m. Location: Decor Cabinets, Morden Hosting Organization: Made Safe A continental breakfast will be provided with a number of speakers telling us why we work safe. 2016 Manitoba NAOSH Launch Time: 8:30 a.m. Location: The MET 281 Donald St. Hosting Organization: Manitoba NAOSH Committee The official launch for NAOSH Week in Manitoba. The Pas NAOSH Launch Time: 10 a.m. Location: University College of the North (UCN) The Pas Hosting Organization: Construction Safety Association of Manitoba (CSAM) A continental breakfast will be provided with a number of speakers telling us why we work safe. Steinbach NAOSH Launch Time: 8:30 a.m. Location: Loewen Windows, Steinbach Hosting Organization: Made Safe A continental breakfast will be provided with a number of speakers telling us why we work safe. Tuesday, May 3 Flin Flon NAOSH Launch Time: 9 a.m. Location: Victoria Inn, Flin Flon Hosting Organization: Construction Safety Association of Manitoba (CSAM) Numerous speakers will reflect on the reasons they continue to work safely. Wednesday, May 4 Brandon NAOSH Launch Time: 12 p.m. Location: Shoppers Mall Hosting Organization: Brandon NAOSH Committee Safety exhibits will be set up from 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. for visitors to tour. Speeches will begin at noon. Come and join us and enter to win some great prizes ‚ and don't forget to take some time and add your reason "why you make safety a habit" to our large display board. NORTH AMERICAN OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH (NAOSH) WEEK EVENTS S U P P L E M E N T T O T H E W I N N I P E G F R E E P R E S S , A P R I L 2 8 , 2 0 1 6

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