Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the National Day of Mourning which is set aside each year to remember those who have been killed or seriously injured in the workplace. It’s the call no family should ever have to receive because workplace accidents change families lives forever. I know this, because a workplace accident changed my family.
My grandfather, Arthur J. Smith, was employed in the position of a construction linesman with former company Terra Nova Telecommunications Inc in Newfoundland when I was one year old.
In January of 1985, the boom truck known as a Telsta unit on which my pop worked aloft as an operator, required repairs to the chain which raised and lowered the boom. The repairs were carried out in Wesleyville, Newfoundland at a garage which I’d rather not name.
A soft steel pin or bolt, not a genuine replacement part, was used to effect repairs to a chain link. The repair was not reported by the foreman to the company.
On September 9, 1985, my family’s lives would change forever, and we would receive unimaginable news about the main link in our family.
While working near Roddickton, on the great northern peninsula in Newfoundland, the hoist chain parted at the site of the repair and the bucket containing my grandfather fell some fifteen feet to twenty feet to the ground. The backup safety system, known as the safety descending cylinder, was found to be empty of fluid and non-functional. My pop arrived at the hospital in St. John’s, Newfoundland on September 10, 1985. He was suffering from fractured vertebrates, fragments of which were compressing his spinal cord.
The doctors at once operated on my grandfather. After surgery, my grandfather appeared to be improving and was noted to be doing well on nurses rounds on the morning of September 19, 1985.
At 10:55 a.m. that cold morning in September my grandfather suffered a fatal cardiac arrest as a result of a pulmonary embolism.
Death is the unknown path which no traveler returns to tell about, my grandfather Arthur went to heaven at the young age of 57 because of a workplace accident, his legacy and name now live on through my byline.