Workplace safety was on everyone’s mind this weekend at the Steps for Life walk. The organization works in partnership with Threads of Life to raise awareness and funds, and support families who have been affected by a workplace tragedy.

Keynote speaker for the event was Bob Quarrell, who lost a son in an accident at work. Now he travels around with Threads of Life to talk about his experiences, and the importance of being safe at work. He attends Family Forums to meet with others who have gone through a similar experience, and reminds everyone that safety should be the number one priority. Quarrell says the Threads for Life organization changed his life.

“I walk in honour of my son Tyler, who was killed on the job two years ago,” says an emotional Quarrell. “Even though Tyler grew up in a family who supports health and safety; his oldest sister works for WSIB, I injured my back in the mines, he knew what it was like to work safely, it still happens. Tragedies happen in the workplace.

“When I broke my back in 1987, there was no organization called Threads for Life. So, we were left to our own devices. When my son got killed two years ago, I don’t think we would have survived had it not been for Threads for Life. It’s such a tragedy. Without Threads for Life being there to support us, to give us the people that we needed to sit down and talk to, and to be with, I think our outcome in our life would have been different.”

Quarrell says part of the support comes from a Family Forum, where families who have been affected can meet and talk about their experience. Threads for Life also pays for people like Bob to get speaker training, so they can go to these walks and share their experiences and help others who have been through similar tragedy.

“You sit down with somebody who is totally lost, and you talk with them and share your experience, and allow them to share,” says Quarrell about the Family Forums. “They know, when they’re sitting with us, talking with us, they feel totally safe. They can express their true feelings, and you can see the difference in them just while you’re sitting talking to them.”

“Our children are not invincible. They’re not superheros. It can happen to you. A lot of people believe that it can’t,” says Quarrell on his key message to families. “I’m witness to the fact that not only can it happen to you, it can happen more than once.”

Top Photo: A group wears the Steps for Life yellow, and walks around Gillies Lake as part of the walk. The walk started at Miners Memorial, across 655, and around the lake.

Bottom photo: Bob Quarrell speaks to the crowd about his experiences. The patch on his shirt represents his late son, Tyler.

Bob Quarrell

Story boards were places from the park to Gillies Lake, telling stories of those who were seriously injured or lost in a workplace accident. These two tell the story of Bob and his son Tyler.

Bob Quarrell - Story Board Tyler Quarrell - Story Board

Threads of Life Website