Watch the full interview with SALUS CEO & Founder, Gabe Guetta, and Ashling Boyd.
In Canada, three families a day will receive a phone call that their loved one will not return home from work. A shocking statistic that initially inspired Ashling Boyd to get involved with Threads of Life back in 2016. But she never imagined that just a year later she would be receiving that very phone call herself.
On May 17, 2017, Ashling’s father, Cathal Boyd, lost his life while working on a job for his landscape company. As a successful entrepreneur, he instilled many valuable life lessons in Ashling and her siblings growing up. He would often tell them that he believed “The next generation should be better than the one before.” And despite leaving some pretty big shoes to fill, Ashling has spent the last six years since her father’s passing making him proud.
Today, she’s paving the way for change – starting with the next generation.
She’s using her story to start the conversation earlier and inspire the younger generation to be safer than the one before. Speaking at colleges and trade programs, she recognizes that safety isn’t typically the first thing on these students’ minds. “Honestly,” Ashling remarks, “if they cry, I’m like, they get it. It actually scares them.”
But she doesn’t want fear to be the only reason for change. Instead, she believes safety in the workplace should be second nature for those students before they begin their career. “It’s hard because they don’t enter the workforce until they’re 15 or 18,” Ashling speaks to the challenges of introducing safety at a younger age, “but if we wait to teach them about health and safety until after they’re interested in a trade, is it too late?”
While the construction industry has made strides over the years in its approach to health and safety, there remains a lot to be done before we see a world with zero workplace tragedies. With a lack of standardization in safety training, it’s still largely up to the employers and workers to build a culture that puts health and safety at the forefront.
But to cultivate a workplace that truly embodies health and safety, the mindset around these things must change, first. And Ashling’s story is a powerful reminder of the reason safe work procedures are so important. “We are the common variable, as humans,” she says about why people should care, “I had to lose my dad in order to get it, and I just don’t want any of these kids to have to be in my situation in order to get it, either.”
So, what can you do?
Talk about it. Normalize safety practices. Speak up if you ever feel unsafe. Correct unsafe behaviours. If you see something, say something. Coach those around you to do the same. A culture of safety can only be built if everyone contributes, so let stories like Ashling’s inspire you to think differently next time you step foot on a job site. Because everyone deserves to return home safely to their loved ones after a day at work.
To file an OHS complaint, anonymous or otherwise, please visit cupe.ca to find your respective legislator in Canada.