Home » Industry » Teaching from Tragedy: Families Speak for Workplace Safety

We all have our routines — getting up in the morning, going to work, coming home. When something disrupts the routine, our minds have trouble coping. That’s what happened to Cindy Desgrosseilliers’ family the day her brother Tim didn’t come home from work, their family was left with comprehending his death.

“That first day, even after the police had been there,” Cindy says, “we all looked for his car driving in the yard at the regular time” but Tim wasn’t going to be driving in. In 2017 he became one of the roughly 1000 Canadians who die each year as a result of work-related injuries and illness. Thousands more experience life-altering workplace injuries.

We need to do more to educate young people about workplace safety before they enter the workforce.

Cindy Desgrosseilliers

Tim had been working on a downtown Toronto construction site, when he was crushed by a heavy elevator motor that broke its strapping and fell down a shaft. DesGrosseilliers never wished to tell the story she tells, but she does it to honour her brother. She does it to remind people that workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility, and that behind the statistics are people whose lives are changed in a second. 

“Tim’s death devastated our family,” she says. “Within four months of the accident, my dad died of cancer — even though he had successfully fought bladder cancer for over 40 years. The fight went out of him. We lost a brother, uncle, friend, and his wife became a widow after just four months of marriage.”

Supporting families, raising awareness 

When a loved one dies or is seriously injured at work, families often don’t know where to turn for understanding and support. It was DesGrosseilliers’ sister who first found Threads of Life, a Canadian charity dedicated to supporting families after a workplace fatality, life-altering injury, or occupational disease. “She very much appreciated the volunteers who talked with her, and while I was more hesitant to deal with the grief, because Tim and I had only recently reconnected after drifting apart for years, Threads of Life helped me through this,” says DesGrosseilliers. 

DesGrosseilliers recently joined Threads of Life’s volunteer speakers bureau, and is committed to sharing Tim’s story at workplaces and safety events. Her goal is to build awareness and highlight that every organization has a responsibility to create a culture of workplace safety and to prevent workplace injuries. 

Making safety a priority

“I’d like to see more action to make safety a priority and to reverse the rates of workplace death, injury, and illness,” says DesGrosseilliers. “We need to do more to educate young people about workplace safety before they enter the workforce, and we should support provincial health and safety organizations who call for new legislation to protect workers.” 

DesGrosseilliers doesn’t want another family to experience what hers has. Everyone deserves the right to return home from work safely at the end of each day.

Illustrations of the ways to help: a hand holding a gift, a badge with a heart in the centre, a hand with a heart on the palm, and people holding hands and talking.

How to Help

Each year more than 200 family members come to Threads of Life for support after a work-related tragedy. You can help us provide hope and healing.

  1. Donate. Your gift directly supports Canadian families affected by workplace fatalities, life-altering injuries, and occupational diseases.
  2. Designate. Make Threads of Life your company’s charity of choice.
  3. Volunteer. Help out with our programs and events like Steps for Life – Walking for Families of Workplace Tragedy.
  4. Spread the word. Let those who need help know where to find it.
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