Shane Webcke, football legend and sports presenter, is Queensland's Safety Ambassador.
Shane has a strong connection and commitment to work safety as his father was killed in a workplace incident.
"I lost my dad in a workplace incident, so I know first-hand that family and loved ones are the most important reason for work safety."
Now, Shane shares the story of how his father's death impacted his family, visiting Queensland businesses and speaking with workers about the importance of staying safe at work and creating a strong safety culture.
Shane played 254 matches for the Brisbane Broncos (including their 2006 Grand Final win), made 21 State of Origin appearances for Queensland, and played 20 Test matches for Australia.
Playing it safe with Shane Webcke
Download a copy of this film (MP4/ZIP, 399MB)
My motivation for accepting the role as a Queensland Safety Ambassador, obviously is linked to the fact that I lost my father and all that went with that. And the hope that if I could change the attitude of one person and that perhaps – and I'll never know this – but that perhaps prevented that from happening to another family – well, then it would have been worthwhile.
You know – I had a very, very close relationship with my dad. Like I think, all boys do but if you consider that both him and I, like the passion he had for life on the land I had from a very early age I think. And so we had a real connection in that sense anyway. But one of my endearing memories of my dad will always be he was a very early riser and we'd get up – and I used to get up with him and we'd have a cup of coffee. Then we'd set off on big walks around our farm and talking about things and animals and looking at things.
Those memories are really vivid for me and I treasure those because they were moments that dad and I spent alone. They were times that really – that's where you really get to know someone and that's where I really felt the closest to my dad.
Dad was crushed by an industrial wool press at his place of work. And I found out ironically enough, I suppose, it happened in the very early morning hours after a State of Origin. And I got a phone call from mum. It was about 4:00 am in the morning and the moment I answered that phone and I heard mum's voice, I knew what she was going to say to me. And it was to say that dad had been killed.
It becomes a bit of a blur after that. It was just devastating, absolutely devastating. There's no other way to talk about it.
When you lose someone like that, and it happens, when you see where you're from all the memories are there and you've got this realisation hat you're never going to – you're never going to see this person again. It was a tremendously hard morning, and I saw mum and I saw my brother and we were just wrecked.
And it gets worse as the days goes on because the reality sets in and that's it, no more dad. Never going to see him again. Then all the horror about how it happened and then you put yourself through all sorts of torment hoping that it didn't hurt him, hoping that it was quick. And all the while you're trying to balance a life, you know, and it's an incredibly hard thing to do.
And time is the only thing that gets you past it. And enough time's gone past now that I can speak about it and think about it. But certainly in those early days and those early weeks and months it was horrendous.
I have every confidence that my father should not have died on that day. And not for the obvious reasons—that I think that there was some neglect in terms of – you know – anecdotally what dad had said about these machines and different things. They weren't looked after and they weren't maintained properly and those were his words to us.
But dad being the way he was and the way that he grew up and – you know – not in a safety culture and all those things and being a very pragmatic bloke would never have been the fella to say "Hang on, I'm not going to be working on this machine. It's dangerous. Someone needs to fix it." Dad's attitude would have been – I can just see him – he would have said "She'll be right. We'll just get this job done and then we'll think about it." I think with the combination of them having looked after things a bit better and my dad having a different attitude, dad would still be walking around here today and you and I wouldn't be here doing this. But I do think about when I see my kids and the different things they go through and I just think "It would have been nice for him to have seen that."
My other real thought about this now, is I have a greater responsibility to other people than just to myself. And I think we as people who go to – particularly blokes who are in dangerous workplaces but anywhere, we have a responsibility to our families to go home. If potentially it can kill you and your kids are going to grow up without knowing you and go through everything that we've been through. Is it worth it? And the answer is always going to be categorically "No."
People get killed and accidents happen because people get complacent and they think it's not going to happen. That's when it does happen. The employee and the employer have got an equal hand in having a good, safe workplace and I guess - you know - in so much as being an employer they set the real framework for that. They are the real driver of that. As much as you can lead a horse to water, your employees have got to buy in, but it's the employer who can really lead the way. And I've employed people and I cannot countenance the thought of hurting someone or killing someone. I can't do it. And I don't know how any employer could think any differently. I think any decent, normal-minded person would not want that on their conscience.
Accepting the role as a Queensland Safety Ambassador it makes me feel like his dying - I just think maybe, in my own mind, I feel that maybe it wasn't for nothing. And maybe that by me being able to reiterate these messages and different things, well maybe - I just put something positive around what was a really, really difficult and tragic situation.
[End of Transcript]
Download a copy of this film (MP4/ZIP, 20MB)
As the Queensland Safety Ambassador I've seen firsthand how workplace accidents can affect families.
In a split second, lives can be changed forever.
One minute you're sitting down to dinner...
And next you're sitting in a wheelchair.
You're looking forward to a family holiday...
next your family is devastated.
You're about to walk down the aisle…
and then you're struggling to walk.
I know this first hand. One day my Dad went to work...
...and then he was gone.
Snap decisions at work destroys lives.
Authorised by the Queensland Government, William St, Brisbane. Spoken by Shane Webcke.
[End of Transcript]
Having just had Shane speak at work and tell his story was amazing. Made me think about safety more. His story is touching and sad. Keep up the amazing work.
My partner lost her mother in a very preventable workplace incident. Safety in the workplace is not just a procedure or filling out a job safety analysis sheet – it is a culture and all workers need to be invested and committed to ensuring that their colleagues and themselves go home in the same health as they left for work in. Well done Shane.
Shane, thank you for sharing your most painful story. My only brother was killed in a workplace accident in October 2001. At age 43 he left behind his wife and two young children aged 10 and 5. He was also crushed by an industrial machine and was the only worker on his shift, covering for someone on a sick day. Just like your Dad's accident, his could have been prevented if the workplace had maintained their plant equipment properly. As a teen he played rugby league and as a father, he always took his son to the weekend games. Your Safety Ambassador role during Safe Work Month is very courageous. Wishing you all the very best with this brave work. Awareness makes a huge difference.
It takes a big man to open up as Shane has done. The raw reality of what happens post incident is truly captured. Everyone has a story but most of us, like me, don't want to expose it or don't want to face it. You should be a proud man Shane, I'm sure your dad would be. After seeing the film I've just taken away a new attitude.
Shane, I have just watched your video and will be using it this week as a safety share in one of our management forums. Thank you for your courage in sharing a very personal and difficult event. Using the respect you have earned as an elite sportsman to deliver such an important message is one of the most generous gestures I have seen. Thank you.
Powerful movie and one that hits home to all our managers and workers. We will show this to our team during our safety lunch that we hold for each month without injury. We are now up to our twelfth week in a row without injury. This movie will help us continue to develop our safety culture. We will also share it with our other factories in Australia, USA and Europe. Thank you Shane, your Dad would be very proud and his memory will help many others.
Having lost my father some years ago and spending the past 20 plus years as a career fire fighter I can relate to Shane's story. Watching Shane's story took me a couple of attempts because of the raw nerve that it touched. It was also an inspiration to ensure that it doesn't happen to my children. Your inspiring story has reached its target because it's made me, as a manager of a crew, want to make sure that everyone makes it home safe tonight to our families.
Always devastating to lose a loved one. Your dad would be so proud of the way you are using your profile and the tragedy to promote a safer workplace for all. We in the industry salute you.
Having lost my father some years ago and spending the past 20 plus years as a career Firefighter I can relate to Shane's story. Watching Shane's story took me a couple of attempts because of the raw nerve that it touched was also an inspiration to ensure that it doesn't happen to my children. Your inspiring story has reached it's target because it's made me as a manager of a crew, want to make sure that I along with my crew make it home tonight to our families. Thanks again.
Thank you Shane, you deliver a very brave and important message. You will absolutely make a positive difference in your role as Safety Ambassador. Keep up the great work.
Working in OH&S, you can implement all the policies and procedures in the world but the most powerful messages regarding safety in the workplace always come from stories like this. Thank you to Shane on sharing his story.
Hi Shane, I'm so sorry to hear you lost your father it what seems to have been a preventable accident. My role is to support workers recovering from illness/injury and I'd like to remind everyone who knows someone in this situation to (first and foremost) not judge them but to show your support, patience and encouragement. Injury and illness can happen so easily (to any one of us) and sometimes the road to recovery is longer than expected. The physical aspect is one thing but people can really struggle when their "normal" is taken away, especially if they're usually very self-reliant. So if someone you know has been off work for a while, please take the time to phone them for a chat (about anything but their illness/injury) or offer some practical help like taking them shopping, mowing the lawn etc. Take care Shane and thanks again for sharing your story, if it helps only one person it is definitely worth it.
Thank you for sharing your heart, not only have you reached out to the working industry but to the people of this nation and how we can all come together and make a difference. An amazing clip brought together by a team with a heart for Safety. Thank you
Thank you for sharing your story, Shane. I too was unaware of your story. I would and will be sharing this story with our workers here. I truly believe that your story can work in any workplace, any situation and would help many people take more care & pride within themselves and with what they do and not be afraid to speak up before something happens. Thanks again, Shane for your story. God bless.
Well done Shane & thank you. We are country folks too & truly do understand.
This will feature in our Toolbox Talks, a great example of the consequences of 'she'll be right mate' and 'let's just get stuck in' attitudes from a well-respected role model for workers all over Australia. Thank you to Shane for helping to change the culture of the Australian workforce. Something positive has come out of the tragedy, you have done a great service to Australia.
Always devastating to lose a loved one. Your Dad would be so proud of the way you are using your profile and the tragedy to promote a safer workplace for all. We in the industry salute you.
I've just shared this story with senior management, and had one of the quietest 'aftershock' moments in a room I have heard. We will share this with the site personnel immediately for the same reason. Please find the time to visit rural areas to share this story personally. Thank you.
I work in the OHS industry helping organisations to improve their OHS performance. As horrible as workplace accidents are, I have found that showing the effect that they have on real people and families, with real stories like Shane's, is what really makes people step back and evaluate what they're doing. They put themselves in others' shoes and realise it doesn't always happen to somebody else - it could happen to them. Thank you, Shane, for sharing your story and helping prevent more tragedies.
I remember when Shane Webcke's father died. I was involved with the local football team in that area, as a teenager/young adult. All these years later working in Health and Safety, it is great to see him as the ambassador. Can't wait to show this video to my H&S Committee at the next meeting, more powerful than anything I can say to them! Thankyou
That is a great video. Congratulations to you guys for making this happen, and for the good work that you are doing! You mightn't hear it as often as people will think it to themselves, but your efforts are very much appreciated. Thank you. Kind regards, Graham
Well done on this film, it is a very professional & moving presentation, which targets both employer and employee's responsibilities, and graphically describing the consequences of workplace incidents from the people who typically get hurt the most. Passed onto our workplace accordingly, high praise feedback.
Story telling is such an integral learning process for people throughout history, passing on lore and experiences to promote wellbeing, safety and longevity. Thank you Shane for sharing your deeply personal and shockingly sad story which will resonate with all Australians in whatever occupation or task they are engaged. Your story is not only powerful for its message about health, safety and wellbeing; your description and experience of your grief is an important one for all managers and colleagues to consider when supporting an employee or colleague.
Thank you for sharing the wisdom of an extremely hard lesson and experience for any family to go through and for making a difference and more awareness for safety in people's lives. People notice when a man's man shares and opens his heart up. Sincerely thank you.
Powerful movie and one that hits home to all our managers and workers. We will show this to our Brisbane team during our Safety lunch that we hold for each month without injury - now going onto 12 in a row. This movie will help us continue to develop our EJ Safety based culture. We will also share it with our other State factories and our USA and European regions. Thank you Shane, your Dad would be very proud and his memory will help many others.
I cannot begin to imagine let alone comprehend not having had my own Dad in my life for my past 62 years. My Dad is 79 now and whilst we know death is an eventual consequence of life, when that loss comes far, far too early as it did for Shane's Dad, or for anyone who has lost a loved one long before their time, then the story as Shane relates it is all the more profoundly moving. Shane's story is told here in equal measures of compassion and passion in an effort to help save others from ever having to share a similar fate. This is a love story we must all share with those we love and those we care about and work with. Thank you Shane Webcke.
So heartbreaking to hear a man torn by the loss of his beloved Dad through a workplace accident. For a man that has a reputation as one of toughest NRL footballers to pull on a boot, his open and honest account of his feelings and how his father's death could have all been avoided was to me very touching and motivational to ensure safety of staff. As an OHS Officer I will be sharing his story with the 400 staff at my workplace. Thank you Shane and WHS for the video.
What a sad story but one that hopefully will make employers and workers think more about safety - not only in the workplace but everywhere. Well done.
Well done Shane, it must have taken a lot to share such a personal but important safety message. A good reminder about making good safety decisions so we all get to go home safe. Every kid deserves Dad and Mum to come home at the end of the working day.
Thank you very much for your courage and honesty in telling your story. I hope the message goes out to everyone. The safety message is a journey and you have made a wonderful and deeply personal contribution that will change lives. Thank you so much for taking the time and good luck as Ambassador for WHS in Queensland. You will be fantastic.
I wanted to compliment you on the Shane Webcke Safety Film. Shane's presentation is moving. The video emphasises the essential message of stopping a job where it is not safe. Your video is useful tool for all industries. Thank you for preparing.
I have just viewed Shane's story for the first time. In all my years in industry I have never been so moved by a story like this. Shane tells this with such tenderness and honesty. I will be sharing this story regularly with my staff. I wish to thank Shane for his great contribution.
Just watched your film Shane - I had no idea that you had suffered such a loss during your football career. Thank you for sharing your story - I will definitely be showing this film to my staff.
Your business can apply for Shane to attend your event and share his story to increase awareness and influence behaviour change, free of charge.
Safe Work Month
- Download the Shane Webcke, Safety Ambassador poster (PDF, 0.62 MB)
- Download the Safe Work Month 'Take a breath' poster (PDF, 0.56 MB)