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“Don’t be complacent. These
accidents can happen to you.
Ultimately, if you don’t follow those
safety procedures and you don’t do
things the right way, it will be you
and your family that pay the price.”
– Eric Giguere
Giguere has had people approach him after his presentation to say
they’ve never thought about it from the perspective of their loved ones.
“I tell them, ‘If you do take that shortcut, what could happen?’”
He speaks of the job he was working that day, where his inexperience
and disregard for safety combined with his supervisor’s complacency. The
man had been digging ditches for 30 years, not always following proper
safety procedures, and nothing had ever happened before.
He also speaks of gradual transitions to unsafe situations.
“We didn’t start out doing it wrong. We started the right way, working in
four-foot trenches, but as we went down the road a little way, the trench got
a bit deeper as the landscape changed. The next thing you know we were
at five feet, then six. When we reached that five-foot mark, we should have
dug the trench way back or put a trench box in, which we didn’t have. There
were numerous things that should have been done.”
In a sad and ironic twist, a trench box – a steel box designed to protect
workers in the event of a cave-in – had in fact been ordered for the job site.
It arrived just after Giguere had been taken to hospital.
He tells his audiences not to trust their safety to anyone else. Learn the
rules, take the training and know what safety equipment should be on a site
and how to use it. Most of all, he encourages them to speak up if they notice
“The message is: Don’t be complacent. These accidents can happen to
you. Ultimately, if you don’t follow those safety procedures and you don’t
do things the right way, it will be you and your family that pay the price –
not the company.”
He advocates designing workplace safety programs with worker input.
“Everybody who goes to work has somebody they love. If we can build
the safety program around that, people will work safe for themselves and
not for the company.”
Giguere knows he’s lucky to be able to share his story, and he plans to
keep talking as long as people will listen.
“I should have died that day. The fact that I lived makes me feel I have a
voice for everyone who never made it out of a trench or died on a job site. I
have an opportunity to make a difference.
“I feel like this is the reason why I lived.”
This article was originally published in Issue 1 2020 of
PileDriver, the flagship magazine of the Pile Driving Contractors
Association. It is republished here with permission.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ERIC GIGUERE, SAFETY AWARENESS SOLUTIONS
44 Think BIG | Quarter 4 2020 | saskheavy.ca