Importance of OSH at work: When things go wrong…
“I can still work but, I am now rendered useless. And the worst thing one can experience is to be dependent on others for own livelihood” said Mr. Fundi (name changed), recounting his experiences of the last 23 years, to the audience of the OSH Pro Services organised International OSH Conference 2019, held on 21-22 November 2019 at the Mombasa Beach Hotel.
When you see Mr. Fundi, sitting on his wheel chair with his legs stretched and covered with a fleece blanket, you would think of him as just another paraplegic, maybe assume that he might have suffered from polio as a child, until you hear his story. This is his story…
We go back to 1996. Mr, Fundi was a builder, with many years’ experience. He worked for one company and got promoted to be a supervisor. Because of his long experience, a friend asked him for help with some advice on best way to put up a roof on a building on a site close to where Mr. Fundi was working. As a good friend, Mr. Fundi went there and went up the building in order to assess and advise.
There was a coconut tree close to the wall where Mr. Fundi and his friend were standing on. Suddenly the wind started to blow. The coconut tree swayed, and in a blink, it swept Mr. Fundi off the wall, sending him right from the upper floor of the building to the ground below. Right below the wall, there were pieces of bricks. Mr. Fundi fell with his back hitting the pieces of the bricks.
This was followed by a series of unfortunate events from transportation to admittance to hospital, a day later after the fall. Mr. Fundi had broken first, second, third and sixth cervical vertebrae. By the time of admittance, the legs have become rigid and numb, and could not be bent at the hip and knee joints. Following a series of failed operations and physical therapy, doctors came to conclusion that there was nothing else that could be done. Mr. Findi’s fate was sealed… paralysis from waist downwards, disjoint both at the hip and knees.
Mr. Funid is now a statistic at the house of the elderly, disowned by his former employer, his family and all the possible support apparatus. He is on his own. He gets a place to stay, get some food to eat, and occasional visit to a doctor. This is his life for the last 16 years. Because Mr. Fundi cannot bend his legs, and neither the hip joint, every travel arrangement has to be by an ambulance. The intricacy of such transportation has confined him indoors permanently, and his attendance at the International OSH Conference 2019, was the first time in 19 years he was a part of anything “exciting.”
Attending the Conference inspired Mr. Fundi so much that he considered taking some OSH courses and advise others on importance of OSH at work, with himself as a perfect living example of what can happen when things go wrong.