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AIHCE: The Last Breath Before Death

Ron Hayes thinks about his son, Pat, every day. He wants you to remember Pat too.

"Families worry about two things when a loved one is killed in an occupational accident," said Hayes. "They worry that their loved one will be forgotten, and they worry that their loved one died in vain."

Pat Hayes died in a grain silo accident nearly 10 years ago, but the memory of that awful time was still fresh in Hayes' mind as he told attendees at the keynote address of the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce) in San Diego today, "I need to make sure you don't get discouraged, that you don't quit, that you don't get frustrated. Because you are the last breath before death."

He told the audience members they were what stood between workers and serious injuries, illnesses and even death. "What if there had been a safety and health professional on site the day Pat died?" he questioned, adding that "What if?" is one of the most difficult things a family thinks about after the life of a loved one has been claimed in an occupational accident.

Keeping with the AIHce theme of "Powerful Partnerships," Hayes told attendees he had partnered with many people and organizations to further his efforts to eliminate workplace fatalities and aid the grieving families of workers killed in occupational accidents and by occupational illness, and he mentioned Occupational Hazards as one of those partners. He said the three things they need to form successful partnerships to help protect employees are an open mind, a commitment to keeping a positive outlook, and follow through for positive change.

He asked them to do five things while they were at the conference:

  • Have fun.
  • Find their reason; to ask themselves, "What have I been put here to do?
  • Conduct a "Hayes" test. Walk through their facilities and look at every machine, every work area, every process and ask themselves, "Would I want my son or daughter working here"
  • Volunteer to conduct some kind of safety class or training in their community. Hayes himself plans to conduct OSHA's 10-hour training course for young people who received their GEDs, but who did not graduate from college, saying he thought they were at-risk of being employees in dangerous jobs.
  • Think about Pat.
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