Sometimes it takes a tough lesson to create change, and that’s just what Trevor Soppracolle discovered in 2002.
Trevor was working on a snubbing rig near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, when he became the catalyst for a serious overhaul in oil and gas safety. “I was working up at about 25 feet, and when I was coming back down I slipped,” said Trevor. “We didn’t have fall arrest back then, so I fell 25 feet, impaling my shoulder on a steel bar.”
Trevor had to lie on the bar for over an hour and a half while he waited for help. An ambulance got lost trying to find their remote location and STARS was busy. Finally, a seismic helicopter was able to pick him up and take him to the hospital.
Trevor stayed in hospital for a week, and then underwent almost six months of physiotherapy on his shoulder and arm before he was back on the job. But, in many ways, he’s one of the fortunate ones – he regained full use of his arm, and now he’s back doing the job he loves, as healthy as ever.
“The company I worked for did their due diligence in finding out what went wrong – they learned from it, they changed and they made it better right away,” said Trevor. In fact, as a result of his accident, mandatory fall arrest was introduced for snubbing units across Canada.
Total commitment to safety
Since the accident, safety has been a top priority for Trevor. He summed up his commitment in one phrase:
You go to work to provide, and to have a life, not to lose it.
Now the co-owner of his own company, Goliath Snubbing, Trevor makes sure all his employees share his dedication to safety. “I wouldn’t tell my guys to do anything I wouldn’t do,” he said. “I have very strict rules, and I know I don’t have to worry about them doing unsafe things. If they think something’s dangerous, then they know they can shut it down and just call me. If there’s a concern, they know someone will come out and we’ll figure out what’s wrong and fix it.”
To learn more about the value of this culture of safety, check out these previous blog posts: ‘when to say NO: your right to refuse dangerous work’ and ‘Why stopping the job could be the safest thing to do’.
Even when a workplace injury doesn’t lead to new regulations, there are always lessons to be learned. Helping others benefit from those lessons is why we feature stories like Trevor’s in our Safety survivors series. Check them out and maybe you’ll learn something life-saving.