Paralympic powerlifter Kahi Puru made a huge impact on employees at the Real Pet Food Company in Ingleburn, south-western Sydney, when he visited them to share the story of his workplace injury.
Puru was 29 when his left leg had to be amputated after being crushed by a forklift at work. He is now a member of the icare Paralympic Speakers Program, and visits workplaces around NSW to help support a culture of safety at work and reduce workplace injuries.
“I’ve experienced first-hand the devastating effect of a workplace injury and the ramifications it has on your loved ones and your workplace,” he says. “By sharing my experience, I can make people more safety-aware. Being able to prevent one workplace injury is worth its weight in gold.
“I wanted to reinforce with the guys at Real Pet Food that life is precious, and they should never be afraid to speak up about unsafe situations in the workplace.”
Sue Wood, the company’s General Manager, Logistics, Manufacturing and Distribution, says she would encourage other employers to invite Puru into their workplaces.
“Kahi is amazing man and he fully engaged with our team at Ingleburn,” she says. “We were overwhelmed and humbled by Kahi’s life story and I’d like to thank him from the bottom of my heart for sharing his story with my team and making the issue of workplace safety ‘real’.”
While vehicle accidents can result in death or permanent incapacity, the most common cause of injury for manufacturing workers is body stressing, which includes muscle strains and back injuries caused by manual tasks like heavy lifting and repetitive movements.
icare NSW provides workers compensation insurance to more than 326,000 public and private sector employers in NSW and their 3.6 million employees. icare’s General Manager Workers Compensation Jason McLaughlin says the speakers program is a great way to spread the message of workplace health and safety.
“With almost 11,000 manufacturing workers injured at work in the past 12 months, education, training and tools are crucial in building a safer work environment,” he says. “Stories like Kahi’s bring home the ‘why?’ around injury prevention.
“Through the Paralympian Speakers Program and our Protect Together injury prevention program, we’re working with employers to develop practical improvements and build a culture focused on strong safety behaviours.”
Employers can book a speaker for their next safety event by visiting the icare website.