Matte Article - Surviving summer - the tragic story of an injured young worker

    TORONTO, June 3 /CNW/ - He wanted to earn some extra spending money.
Instead, he earned himself a trip to the hospital, a body full of scars, and a
story that no one should have to tell.
    Like many other 16 year olds, Eric Olivieri got himself a summer job.
Like many other kids his age, he left for work not bothering to say goodbye to
his mom, avoided talking to his sisters, and blew off his dad's wishes to have
a good day when he got dropped off at work. Eric was your average teenager.
Sadly, like 42,000 other kids his age, Eric suffered a workplace injury.(1)
    The school year is winding to a close and a flood of young workers are
preparing to enter the workforce. This is an exciting time for young people,
but also a time of increased risk. Eric Olivieri learned this lesson the hard
    On August 13, 2007, Eric arrived at his summer job full of enthusiasm,
ready to step in where needed. He did just that and was crushed by a 10 tonne
nuclear reactor. Eric shattered his upper arm, blew out his bicep and triceps,
broke his pelvis, broke his femur, shattered his knee, and was stabbed in the
neck. In a matter of seconds, Eric's world was turned upside down. "A guy
jumped on top of me to stop the bleeding. I felt tired and peaceful. I thought
I was dying," recalled Eric. He received six blood transfusions that day and
almost lost his leg. Doctors told him he may never walk again.
    For months, Eric was bedridden while he recovered from his injuries.
Normally a very active person, this was a devastating reality. "It felt like
someone pressed pause on a remote and placed me on a shelf. I was forced to
lay there and watch while everything else whizzed by. I lost a whole year of
my life," explains Eric. The accident sidelined his ability to be a normal
kid. While he recovered he missed playing hockey, competing in paintball
tournaments, attending school, social outings with friends, and getting his
driver's license.
    Eric, now 18 and beating the odds with his recovery, hopes his story can
reach young workers, parents, and employers and prevent someone from suffering
a similar fate. "People need to realize that there are thousands of jobs out
there, but you only have one life. So what if you get fired, you don't want a
job that could cost you your life."
    Eric now knows that all Ontario workers have the right to refuse unsafe
work and wishes he would have known and believed that the day he was injured.
"Something about helping move that nuclear reactor didn't feel right. There
were bells going off in my head, but I didn't listen to them," says Eric. "I
wanted to pull my weight and didn't want the other workers to see that I was
scared. I now wish I hadn't wanted to be so cool."
    Many people would have sat and felt sorry for themselves after surviving
a workplace injury, but Eric remained positive and decided to use his
situation to help others. "After surviving this accident, I wanted nothing
more than to protect others from going through this. I want people to know
that they have a right to a safe workplace, and that asking questions,
receiving proper training, and knowing the risks of your job are essential to
arriving home alive," says Eric.
    He began his quest to educate people on workplace safety during a
speaking engagement at the IAPA Health & Safety Canada 2009 Youth Forum. His
presentation was an eye-opener to the more than 2,000 students in attendance,
as he recalled his injury, the thoughts that went through his mind before,
during, and after the incident, his recovery, and the lessons that he learned
along the way. His taped presentation can be viewed in its entirety by
visiting the IAPA website at
    Help Eric make a difference and save someone from a workplace injury.
Share his video and use resources available on the IAPA website (
to prepare workers for a safe work experience.

    Submitted by IAPA (Industrial Accident Prevention Association), a
not-for-profit organization operating in Ontario since 1917. Representing more
than 50,000 member firms and in excess of 1.5 million Ontario workers, IAPA is
Canada's leader in workplace health, safety, and employee well-being.

    To access Eric's taped presentation, photos, and captions please visit
the IAPA website at
If you intend to broadcast the video and require a higher quality video file,
a DVD copy for your use can be arranged.

    (1) WSIB, Statistical Supplement - Young Worker Statics 2007.

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview with Eric and/or an
IAPA spokesperson on young workers, please contact: Holly-Ann Campbell,
Manager, Corporate Communications, IAPA (Industrial Accident Prevention
Association), Tel: (905) 614-4272, ext. 2437, Email:;
ATTENTION MEDIA: IAPA is now accepting applications for the 2010 IAPA Russ
Ramsay Media Awards for Excellence in Health and Safety Reporting. Visit the
IAPA website ( to learn
more about the award.

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