Threads of Life Offers Hope to Families Struggling After a Workplace Fatality

April 12, 2010, 3:41 PM EST


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Jim Sandford knows that many workers fear they will  be fired if they refuse unsafe work. Sandford is a volunteer speaker for the Threads of Life, a non-profit national organization dedicated to supporting families who have suffered a workplace fatality or life-altering illness or occupational disease.
"The fight for safety seems to be left to unions," said Sandford, in an emotional address to CAW Council on April 10. "Companies have almost succeeded in convincing us that we're entirely responsible for safety."  
Sandford lost his son Jim to a workplace fatality on March 30, 2005, after he succumbed to an injury suffered from a fall down an elevator shaft, in London, ON.  Jim was working as an elevator mechanic, the same trade his father worked in since 1973.  Sandford Sr. is a member of the International Union of Elevator Constructors.
An inquest following his son Jim's death produced a number of recommendations that would make the trade safer and could have prevented Jim's death.
To date, only one recommendation has been adopted, the rest have been caught up in government bureaucracy, said Sandford. In his victim impact statement during the inquest, he spoke about how the death of his eldest son affected his entire family, devastating him and his wife. "Instead of watching our children grow up, we were forced to bury one of our babies."
Jim left behind a young son, with whom Sandford spends time doing many of the same outdoor activities he used to enjoy with his own son.
Since Jim's death, Sandford has gotten involved in Threads of Life and said that the family forums, discussion groups and workshops offered by the organization have had a tremendous impact on his family. He urged delegates to support the group and to continue advocating for safer workplaces.
Threads of Life will be holding walks in various locations across the country on May 2. To make a donation or find out how to sign up, please visit: http://www.stepsforlife.ca/
For more information on Threads of Life, please visit: http://www.threadsoflife.ca/threads.htm

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