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The Importance of Machinery Safety with Paralympic Gold Medallist, Scott Reardon
Scott Reardon knows all too well the importance of machinery safety. In 2002, an accident involving a post hole digger saw Scott become an above-knee amputee at the tender age of 12.
“My brother and I decided it would be a good idea to stand on the frame of the post hole digger that we were using, and I remember standing on that frame and looking down and realising my shoelace was undone, and the next thing I remember I woke up on the ground and my leg was completely amputated,” says Scott.
The accident was nothing short of life changing for the avid sports lover.
“That initial phase when you're sitting in hospital, you don't really know what your life’s going to be. I was always an athlete when I was growing up; rugby league and athletics was something I was always really passionate about, and the moment you lose your leg [you] realise that you're going to be different for the rest of your life,” says Scott.
But a strong sense of resilience and maturity beyond his years ensured this would not stop him from pursuing his dreams. A positive attitude saw Scott jump back into the world of sport, which ultimately resulted in him winning gold at the Rio Paralympics in 2016.
“For us in disability sport the Paralympic Games is the pinnacle of what we do and that was always my aspiration and to be able to represent Australia at the next world Championships after I started running, [which] was pretty special. But then to turn up in London in 2012, to have 80,000 people watching live in the stadium, including my family,”
Four years after that, I had put in a lot of work and dedicated a lot of time and sacrifice a lot things to make sure that when I stepped on that start line in Rio in 2016 that I was the best prepared that I possibly could be, and to execute a race and lead from the front for the entire race to take home that gold medal was something that's pretty special. And I still get goosebumps now thinking about it,” he says.
Since then, Scott has become an inspirational keynote speaker, working in the workplace safety space.
He says focusing on the human side of the machinery safety message really makes people stop and think about its importance.
“There's not just rules and regulations, but they're in place for a reason, and trying to get people to understand why that's important and making sure that every person who walks out that front door in the morning comes back home to that front door in the afternoon safe,” says Scott.
“If something happens and somebody dies on my worksite, what are the consequences of that? Who's going to go home and talk to the family? Do they have young kids? Who's going to provide for those kids for the next how many years? If your best mate doesn't come back to work the next day because a rule wasn't followed, it's detrimental. And even if they do come back to work, do they come back with one leg, does their life change forever?,” he says.
Scott says ensuring you and your workers know your ‘why’ can go a long way to improving machinery and workplace safety.
“Why do I need to abide by this rule? Why do I need to do this pre start? Why do I need to make sure this piece of machinery is compliant? If you know that ‘why’, that process becomes easier. You start to realise that this rule is important. This regulation is important because it means that I have a better chance at getting home to what's important to me,” he says.