This is the fifth post in our Safety survivors series, in which we hear from people who’ve survived serious injury, both on and off the job. This week we’ll see how a long day and a late night nearly cost a young man his life.

Dusty Biensch was looking forward to a well-deserved break. After working a 12-hour shift as a derrickhand, packing up the rig for Christmas shutdown, he and some friends headed off to watch a UFC fight at a bar in Lethbridge.

Dusty Binesch - an Enform Safety Survivor

Dusty had always had a healthy respect for safety, both on and off the job, so he didn’t drink that night because he knew he’d be driving. When he left the bar at 2.30 a.m. he was tired, but he wore his seat belt and he drove at the speed limit.

Unfortunately Dusty fell asleep at the wheel. His airbag didn’t deploy and his head hit the steering wheel, and while he lay unconscious, the truck caught fire. Luckily for Dusty, a friend happened to drive by at that time, and was able to drag him to safety.

After the accident, Dusty was unconscious for about a month. When he finally woke up, he had no memory of the accident, or of the surgery to reconstruct his forehead, which involved the insertion of a titanium mesh plate. After that, it was another three months before he started to regain his short-term memory, and even then it was a long road to recovery. “I spent about eight months in hospital,” he said, “and then I had to rely on my mom like I was a little kid again.”

Six years later, he still walks with a limp, his right hand twitches and he has no sense of smell. And the lasting impact of his accident goes beyond this physical discomfort. “I have a hard time finding work,” Dusty explained. “When you state you have an injury you get looked down on.”

Dusty learned to his cost that when you’re tired you’re never at your best; whether that’s during or after work hours. “You need to adopt a safety mindset in all aspects of your life, not just at work,” he said.

You can read more about the importance of being rested and alert in ‘Fighting fatigue to save lives’, and ‘How to keep your workers safe on the road’.

Check out other stories in our Safety survivors series here: