Remaining forever vigilant
Doug Parry has twice experienced what any workplace health and safety activist will tell you is the most devastating of all their duties — investigating the death of a co-worker.
Clearly more than a decade later the circumstances surrounding the deaths of his co-workers are still fresh in Parry’s mind. “Joseph Lucien Beaulieu,” he recalls without hesitation, “was a 30-year-old labourer who died on June 30, 1988 when a 2.5 ton crane block fell on top of him. The ensuing investigation found the cause of the incident to be a loose cable clamp.”
The other death happened, ironically as Parry was leaving to attend a Day of Mourning event in 1990. Pete Caspersen, age 51, was electrocuted, says Parry, while working on a piece of equipment which was not locked-out.
“You have to be forever vigilant about workplace health and safety. It is not something you attend to during your spare time,” says Parry. He admits though, it is more complicated than this. “As workers the authority is not ours, we do not have the ultimate power to make necessary changes and institute training programs. However we have the Occupational Health and Safety Act
and we have collective agreements — working within these documents we can yet make a difference.”
On several occasions, Parry has had to call on the Ministry of Labour to help resolve a workplace health and safety issue. In one instance, a MOL inspector wrote over 200 orders regarding lifting equipment in the Plate and Strip department.
Parry, a member of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), Local 1005, and a Workers Health and Safety Centre-qualified instructor, has been involved in health and safety since 1978. For the last 12 years he has held the full-time elected position of divisional health and safety chairman representing workers. He also sits on the mill’s senior joint health and safety committee.
For Parry health and safety training and education is extremely important. “It does not happen overnight,” he says, “but as people become more educated, you begin to see a change in their approach to their work environment.”
At times though, Parry says he feels he is fighting the same battle over and over again. “And then you notice one small improvement, a slight change that makes it all worthwhile.” For example he says, he recently moved to correct a pile of steel which was stocked unsafely. “It feels good to think I might have prevented an injury or death. It’s these seemingly little things that keep me going.”
Warren Smith, president of USWA, Local 1005, is impressed by Parry’s dedication to health and safety. He says Parry has spent many hours of his own time attending health and safety courses and seminars.
“His extensive knowledge of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
has also been invaluable to our Local, especially in investigations and arbitration hearings,” says Smith.
He adds, “While Parry’s goal is to help improve health and safety conditions overall, his private passions are lockout and lifting devices — areas involved in the deaths of two co-workers.”
As At the Source
was going to press we learned Doug Parry was sadly once again called upon to investigate the death of a co-worker. Jeffery David Turner, 57, died December 6, 2001 when he became entangled in equipment at a bar mill.