Garry is a Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Safety Advocate.
A rural tractor roll-over incident resulted in traumatic injuries, including the loss of his leg.
Now Garry visits Queensland businesses as a safety advocate, hoping to help others avoid what he has been through.
"A small lapse in concentration and you could end up seriously injured—or worse. In my case it was a tractor. You may be driving home or walking across the road. A split second is all it takes."
Between a rock and a hard place - Garry's story
Garry Nichols was an experienced farmer when he lost his leg in a tractor rollover incident.
Without being aware of a hidden rock, Garry suffered traumatic injuries when his tractor rolled and crushed his lower body.
He also lost his farm through the financial hardship that followed.
Between a rock and a hard place – Garry's story shows how a short moment of complacency in the workplace can lead to severe physical, emotional and financial problems.
Download a copy of this film (MP4/ZIP, 33MB)
Order your free copies of Garry's DVD via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your business can apply for Garry or another of Queensland's Safety Advocates to attend your event and share their story to increase awareness and influence behaviour change, free of charge.
FIONA: At the moment, the rural industry does have quite a high number of fatalities, and severe injuries in relation to other industry sectors
FIONA: When we're talking about severe injuries, we're not talking about you know, a couple of stiches, or a crushed finger, we're talking about amputations and people maybe never returning to their work again so it is very serious.
FIONA: It's very, very important that we work with industry to try and find solutions to some of those high risk activities and hopefully reduce those severe injury and those fatality rates.
GENERAL TITLE SLIDE: "Between a rock and hard place"
GARRY: I was farming. Most of my life I was on the farm. But I did have a tractor accident and that changed all
MARLENE: He was the type of person who had to be busy all the time.
GORDON: Everything had to be done today and not tomorrow and
GARRY: I guess I was in the prime of my life, you know, I was 38 and I was pretty much bullet proof.
MARLENE: Life was great and then 'bang'.
[3 second black out]
MARLENE: (voice only over black dropout) But that's the way it can happen.
MARLENE: He mentioned to me that he was going to slash the paddock and I said well you be damn careful on that hill
GARRY: I was slashing some fairly high scrub and you couldn't really see too far in front of you. But at the actual time of rolling it, I was looking up the hill and thinking well I've only got another hour and a half'.
MARLENE: He had remembered some rocks in the paddock but he couldn't remember where they were.
GARRY: When I hit the rock, it was certainly a combination of the slope of the hill, there was a washout on the bottom side of the rock as well, and the height of the rock.
GARRY: Basically the impact of hitting the rock was just - I had no control at all - Just flipped over 360 sideways and catapulted me out down the bottom side.
GARRY: I hit the ground, and I rolled and rolled and then when I stopped, I looked up and here was this tractor wheel coming down on top of me and I just screamed
GARRY: I knew I was in strife, my body was flat, the tractor had actually got me across the groin and the pelvis and there was blood everywhere
GARRY: My fear was that I had a broken back - and when I wriggled the toes on the left one, it worked, the right one eventually stopped.
GARRY: I then hauled myself around. And - that was the most excruciating thing I've ever done. I had white lights just flashing before my eyes and it just felt like I was leaving the bottom half of my body behind. It was as if it was hanging by - just by a nerve, it was extremely painful.
[3 second black out]
GARRY: I strongly believe if that to get through something you need to focus on something that is really dear to you - I had to live for my family. We had a three year old girl - so that was my focus.
GARRY: It was a long wait.
GARRY: I saw my wife going to town. I saw the dust and I thought well there goes one avenue. Because I was thinking she'll come looking for me.
GARRY: And then I heard a neighbour's tractor coming down the hill and that's when I yelled and somehow, somehow, he heard me.
GORDON: My neighbour rang me and said that Garry had an accident, could you come over straight away?
GORDON: I stood beside him on the stretcher and tried to keep him calm and talk him through it and, 'cause he was in a bad way, he was losing a lot of blood and I could see his leg was pretty bad
CRYSTAL (with baby): I do remember coming around the corner of the hill, coming home from shopping with mum, and I saw the whole cattle paddock full with lights and helicopters and ambulances.
MARLENE: I thought strewth, there's been a horrific accident at either of these farm houses
GARRY: And Marlene came on site and threatened to kill me if I died - so - you're not leaving me with this child on my own.
MARLENE: I think it was anger, shock, dismay. Our future, all our plans were down the tubes because he did something stupid you know and I was, I was angry.
GARRY: They stabilised me then they choppered out to Cairns Base Hospital.
GORDON: My thoughts at the time that he wasn't going to make it.
GORDON: It was a fairly, fairly, yeah, disturbing, disturbing thing to witness.
[1.5 second black out]
GARRY: The specialists said they had never seen anyone come in with those injuries, survive.
MARLENE: Well we had an idea that he was going to lose his leg because it was cold - He couldn't feel me touching it
GARRY: I cried buckets of tears that's for sure. Particularly when they - they said we're going to amputate.
GARRY: Even though in the paddock, I'd known that I was going to lose it, the reality was a different thing, it was when they said they were going to cut it off.
GARRY: After they shaved my whiskers off, Crystal didn't recognise me and that was - that was - huge - that -
CRYSTAL: It was just the initial shock of seeing him that sick and not well - it probably scared me a bit.
GARRY: Yeah, I found that very hard to cope with, lying in hospital, you know, on the deathbed I suppose because they didn't think I would survive.
GARRY: It took a long time for me to get images of the rollover out of my mind, that haunted me for - a long time. And certainly the noise of the, when the tractor actually flattened me and squashed me.
MARLENE: For the first 12 months after the accident, it was horrific for both of us I think.
GARRY: I think my wife went through a lot more pain than I did. Certainly I was getting physical pain but she had mental pain. Mental strain, she had to try and keep the farm going, deal with me.
MARLENE: He tried to brush me off in the hospital. Umm, said well you can pee off now.
MARLENE: I was shocked, you know. And I just said hey, we made some vows a while back - In sickness and in health and I meant what I said.
GARRY: I didn't have insurance for me. Looking back I guess I was bullet proof, it wasn't going to happen to me and yet when you look at it now it's so stupid because I was the main cog, without me, the farm didn't exist.
GORDON: They were struggling at the time, trying to make the farm work and Garry's in, you know, development stage with his bananas and.
CRYSTAL: Mum had to stay on the farm and try and run the farm when Dad went out to sell fertiliser I think it was and he was gone for one or two weeks at a time and I think that was hard on Mum
MARLENE: And I just said to Garry - I know it's going to break your heart to leave it go, but the dream is now a nightmare for me. I can't handle much more stress; I've just about had all I can take.
CRYSTAL: And I think that's why the farm ended up getting sold in the beginning, I think that's one of the reasons and because of course Dad couldn't do all the things he used to.
GARRY: With the fact that I couldn't ride a horse, I gave up my dream of cattle. Ever owning a cattle block.
GARRY: It was just like slamming a book you know, the final chapter and I knew I'd never go back to it. So yeah it was difficult. But - life goes on (V EMOTIONAL).
FIONA: In Garry's situation, the incident could well have been prevented.
FIONA: He was under a lot of pressure to do the job. He was a man that pushed himself.
MARLENE: It's not that he was careless; I guess that he was overconfident in his ability and always racing against time.
GARRY: Look, the accident could have been prevented, there's no doubt about that.
GARRY: Being on the farm all my life and complacency certainly did play a part
GARRY: There's a couple of things I did wrong. Apart from certainly not having the roll frame on.
GARRY: The rollover frame would have stopped the tractor from rolling, but I was slashing country where I couldn't see and I was using a 60 horsepower tractor where I should have been using a dozer. It's as simple as that - right machinery, right job. I didn't have the right machinery.
FIONA: So with any incident, there's always a lot of factors – there's always factors surrounding the person, the piece of equipment they're using and the environment they're using it in.
FIONA: And it's being able to recognise those, those risk factors and doing what we call a risk assessment.
GARRY: Sometimes you put yourself into a situation where you know you shouldn't be.
GARRY: I did some foolish things. I was fortunate enough that I got through it. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there won't make it.
FIONA: From this story, I hope people take home the fact that incidents can happen to anybody. You can be a competent person, you may have been brought up on the land and you may have done that same job over and over again but the more risks you take, the more you increase the likelihood of having a severe injury or a fatality.
FIONA: I'd really like people to hopefully watch this and just sit back and take a bit of time and absorb it. Think about what can go wrong and if you're doing something at home that you know is wrong, please pull up, take some time to fix it.
MARLENE: The best advice I can give farmers is think about your family
CRYSTAL: Keep a safe workplace because you've got your family to go home to and if you don't go home to your family, your family is going to be heartbroken. Because your family is what matters.
FIONA: Workplace health and safety should be an integral part of all of our business, it should never be isolated, we need to include safety in everything that we do to change people's behaviour - and everyone has the right to go to work put in a good day's work and come home a little dirty at the end of the day, but be home - and be home with your family.
GORDON: At the end of the day, if you're alive, well you're going to be coming home, to your wife and children and grandchildren - I guess that's the ultimate prize, isn't it? To be able to live a long and healthy life on the land and enjoy it because it's an enjoyable life on the land, there's no two ways about it.
FIONA: I've seen a lot of people go through incidents have come out with injuries similar to Garry's and some worse, that their marriages have broken down, they've lost their properties, they're isolated from their families, their whole life has been turned upside down
MARLENE: Life without each other, I shudder to think what it would be.
GORDON: He's a really tough man, he's a fighter, and I'm very impressed with the way he's pulled through the whole thing.
CRYSTAL: When I was three, it didn't really occur to me that he, you know, he could die. But now that I'm older - I kind of think wow, how lucky I really am to still have him around?
GARRY: We now have an irrigation shop. I think we're just about back to where we were pre the accident and that, that's taken 17 years.
GARRY: We nearly lost everything in the process, financially, but the strength was still there, you know, my wife stuck by me, the family stuck by me and I think that was the greatest asset I could have had.
GARRY: And I'm just so fortunate that I'm here to enjoy it, I wanted to see my daughter grow up and I saw it and that was wonderful and now she's produced a wonderful little granddaughter and that's even better still so yeah, look, life's good. Couldn't be better.
SLIDE: Work Safe. Home safe. Farm safe. Queensland Government logo
[End of transcript]
“Very engaged, plenty of follow up content issues raised post Garry's presentation.”
- Pro-Test Well Services
“Very pleased, everyone learned a lot.”
- Cascade Australia
“Very influential and strong powerful story. Everyone was listening and the message hit home strong.”
- SMA Infrastructure
“Sombre, thoughtful. Many staff thanked me for organising the visit and were quite introspective after.”
- Australian Red Cross Lifeblood
Garry speaking to the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood team.
“I believe it had an instant profound effect on most of the audience. In particular several of our younger workers came and spoke to Garry afterwards.”
- Rural Funds Management Ltd
“All students were engaged fully when Garry was talking and didn't want to leave to go to their next lesson. Every student I have asked has said that they think this is important for every Year 11 student to experience and that we should make it a regular part of the delivery of this unit. Many students commented on how emotional they felt when Garry talked about his daughter and that 'you have to have something to live for'.”
- Mareeba State High School
Garry speaking to students at Mareeba State High School.
“The audience were engaged and could relate to Garry’s experience and how quickly things can go wrong. They also acknowledge the impact to family. People could relate and can see we want a culture for people to speak up. Garry’s presentation helps us reinforce the importance of staying focused and safety is our only priority.”
- Deborah Hagenbruch, Shell QGC
"Garry engaged with our workforce in a way that made their everyday actions connect with the importance of not becoming complacent. Garry connected with our team members in a meaningful way and would definitely recommend Garry to other businesses. Thanks for making the trip down to Brisbane especially for us Garry!"
- Sarah Rafferty, Moody Civil & Pipe
“Garry's presentation was an emotional one, confirmed by the way he describes the events, the effect it's had on his family's life and the passion he uses to impact our workers. Since the presentation, numerous workers and contractors have reached out to me to provide positive feedback and to ask if we could get him along again for those who may not have been able to attend.”
- Des Hetherton, HQPlantations
“Garry’s presentation was a real reminder to the team that it only takes a minute for our lives to change forever and as a presenter he is very engaging and is a fantastic example of mental resilience and perseverance. The feedback from our staff has been very positive and we really appreciate him sharing his story with us.”
- Donna Carmichael, Ingham’s Lytton
Garry talking to the Ingham’s Lytton team.
“Opened staff eyes as to how quickly it can go from being ok to not and how severe the consequences can be. Staff are more engaged in discussing safety concerns and offering suggestion on how to modify processes to make them safer.”
- Tim Bade, Spring Creek Barramundi
Garry presenting at Spring Creek Barramundi.
“Garry delivered a searing account of his injury and life in the aftermath. Several of my staff spoke to me post the presentation about the notion that all it takes is one moment to completely and irrevocably change a life. It was an excellent presentation I recommend to everyone.”
- Glenn Forrest, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Garry speaking to the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority team.
“You could tell the audience was listening and taking everything in as Garry spoke. Too soon yet to see changes, but we will see what happens.”
- Corey Sander, Coral Coast Barramundi
Garry presenting at Coral Coast Barramundi.
“Wow. I have not seen a more passionate, engaging, emotional storyteller present like Garry. I watched Garry speak for three days in a row and was in awe of him. He adjusted his presentation for the audience, kept them engaged and there was not a dry eye in the session. Even our other providers from Medibank and Bupa gave me feedback about how amazing Garry's speech was. In fact the Red Cross want Garry to be an advocate for blood donation because he mentions how many units of blood he needed and they got involved with explaining how many donations that would take. It was incredible. Garry shared lunch with us and came along on site tours - we really felt changed by his interactions with us and I am personally so grateful to have had Garry speak to us. (I have even heard his voice while driving now - 'PAY ATTENTION TO THE TASK AT HAND!')”
“As the WHS Coordinator for Jet Aviation I have received many comments from the work teams that his story has impacted them in how they look at their work and home life. All persons concerned asked to pass on their thanks to Garry. Garry was obliging in that we had limited audience space and he completed two sessions of his story which allowed us to cover all our people. Very relevant and engaging.”
- Jet Aviation
“Our young people are actively talking about workplace safety. We can see them thinking and talking about their own workplace and discussing with peers potential hazards that could occur for them if they were to be unsafe. We believe our young people will take this experience with them into industry and be more mindful of safety.”
- Ashlee McCloy, Australian Industry Trade College
“The audience will think about their activity at work. Focus on the activity at hand. Realise that being safe at work means they go home to what is really important family friends etc (healthy).”
- Gary Cope, SilverChef Rentals
“Employees have been more tuned into the safety message and have an increased awareness of how quickly things can go wrong, evidenced by many corridor discussions I have overheard since the presentation and direct feedback I have received. The event was very well received by the organisation and the leadership team. There has been an increase in quality of the ‘personal safety moments’ shared before meetings. We held an R U OK Day? event throughout the organisation today and feel we are building real momentum since Garry's presentation with leadership and employees having more involvement in promoting key safety messages. Having Garry mix with staff during morning tea allowed for some great one on one opportunities to reinforce the key messages through his experience.”
- Adrian Niebling, Newlands Group
“Garry was amazing and nothing was too much trouble for him. AG-Grow would like to thank Garry for attending and sharing his story with us all.”
- Donna Reeves, AG-Grow Emerald
"Garry's accident had all the elements which we wanted our farm team to hear and understand. The consequences of rushing, not taking breaks, thinking of other things while driving a tractor. You could have heard a pin drop in the room when Garry was speaking about the impact on him personally, his family, friends and financially. The “it won’t happen to me” but it did. Our team started talking about incidents in their family and friendship group, so it penetrated deeply with our employees. Thank you.”
- Louise Turner, Sealord King Reef
"Garry was very engaging with the audience over Zoom. He relates the events of his accident to being able to happen to anyone in any workforce with heavy machinery when you get complacent. Garry's presentation has enforced workers to keep their mind on the task at hand, so they go home safely at the end of each day. Thank you for sharing your story with us Garry."
- Noosa Shire Council
"Excellent feedback from all that attended."
- Matt Humphry, GSL Services
Garry speaking to the team at GSL Services.
"Our staff were very impressed with Garry's presentation with a couple saying that they could listen to him again. His presentation was very well received and thought provoking and I'm sure quite a few will be reviewing their work practices from now on. We've taken a couple of photos of our Inspector Mark Ridge making a presentation to Garry in appreciation. We're now keen to repeat the experience some time in 2021."
- Ian Stevenson, Darling Downs - Moreton Rabbit Board
Garry at the Darling Downs-Moreton Rabbit Board.
"I just wanted to share with you how privileged Designer Life felt to have Garry attend our Mitchelton Hub event last week. Garry had the whole room in awe and his story really hit home to everyone and gave encouragement to our students to really believe in themselves and what they can achieve."
- Jess Herrmann, Designer Life
Garry presenting at Designer Life.
"This year we celebrated Safe Work Month with guest speaker Garry Nichols. We are so grateful to Garry for sharing his experience. During Garry's presentation you couldn't hear a pin drop as he had our undivided attention, as a result no group photo of his presentation. Thanks again for this privilege where we can all share, extend and learn from."
- Annette Corcoran, Sugar Research Australia
"Just wanted to send you a thank you for arranging for Garry to attend Scenic Rim Regional Council and share his story with staff. I have had such great feedback from all the sessions today."
- Pauline Wimmer, Scenic Rim Regional Council
Garry presenting at Scenic Rim Regional Council.
"Both sessions went well. Garry did his normal unbelievable talk, gee he is good at getting the people's attention and reasons to be motivated for a safer workplace for all. Thank you once again for assisting in getting Garry to workplaces, workers find it very beneficial and I use it to push safety along."
- Gerard Bowe, Public Safety Business Agency
"Everyone enjoyed hearing Garry's story and said that his story really hit home, that even though Garry was injured by a tractor - it really could be related to anything. Key take home messages from today:
- Pay attention to the task at hand
- Follow procedures
- Get back to work as soon as you can
- Speak up - be brave about safety
Having WHSQ Safety Advocates visit our offices is a very effective way to get the safety message across to staff. Thanks for arranging the visit to Toowoomba."
- Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (Toowoomba)
Garry with the Department of Natural Resources in Toowoomba.
"Yes, definitely a big impact. Probably not so much within my work related duties but more so when I'm driving a vehicle - I guess to work and home etc and to do the banking. Just a big focus on concentrating on what you are doing as he had a tractor accident. And how it affected his family, many had tears including me and then I had to get up and thank him, definitely a few cracks in my voice as we all relate it back to our own loved ones and how you would all cope with such a traumatic event. Probably a direct hit for our field workers/compliance officers etc."
"Such a touching story and there were a few tears shed during the course of his story."
- Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (Bundaberg)
Garry with the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (Bundaberg).
"My understanding is that everyone was very engaged and emotional by the end of both discussions. I was on site for the breakfast crew and they were all very touched by Garry's story and appreciative of the time he gave them. Our agronomist was quite emotional and very empathetic to what Garry went through to save his own life. Thanks again and I will keep in touch to arrange a similar event in 2020."
- Nicole Cooper, Greensill Farming Group
Garry with the Greensill Farming Group.
"Thank you for the opportunity to have Garry speak on site. His talk was very well received by all who attended or saw his story via video (if unable to attend the session). The message about a lapse in concentration was particularly relevant and although a different industry everything that was discussed was relevant and had a hard hitting message."
- Emma Leech, WICIT
Garry with WICIT.
"It was a huge pleasure to have Garry talking to the Bindaree team. Garry spoke to workers and supervisor about the importance of safety in the workplace and shared with us his meaningful experience. Garry's visit will help us take safety to an emotional level and have a positive impact to build the safety culture we want to embed at Bindaree."
- Thais Galvao, Bindaree Food Group
Garry with the Bindaree Food Group team.
"Thank you so much for organising Garry to present to the Qantas staff at Brisbane Airport. The room was full with as many staff that could fit. Garry's presentation was honest, raw and confronting. It was also warm, encouraging and supportive. To be honest, every emotion was felt at some point or another during his presentation.
The audience was a mixture of management, administration staff, health and safety representatives, ramp staff and customer facing check in staff. To guage the emotions in the room during his presentation, I would describe it as intense. All eyes were on Garry. He held the attention of everyone for the whole time. It was a testament to him that the line to shake his hand, give him a hug or thank him after the presentation was extensive.
I applaud your organisation for the work that you do for injury/accident prevention. If just one person listens and changes a potentially unsafe behaviour, it is all worth it."
- Ruth Healy, Qantas
Garry at Brisbane Airport.
"We LOVED having Garry out on site last Wednesday afternoon. It was a pleasure to have him tell his story to our small group in an intimate setting. We are grateful for his honesty and openness to share his mistakes as he relived the traumatic experience. Key messages that really hit home for our team were the importance of keeping your mind on the job, reassess and be cautious before taking a shortcut, and the ripple effect – while Garry was injured, the effects of trauma were felt by his whole family and community. Thank you Garry for your visit!"
- Laura van den Heuvel, Capricorn Sandstone Quarries
Garry at Capricorn Sandstone Quarries.
"Garry's presentation was very moving and he is an inspiration to those on the land."
- Melissa Kimlin, AgForce
Garry with AgForce.
"Garry, thank you kindly for your very heartfelt and professional presentation on Wednesday. I have had many staff tell myself and Brett how it was the most touching, yet had the most impact on them since we commenced the annual meetings three years ago. You were able to engage with, and had the undivided attention of all those present in the room for your whole presentation. You effectively tailored your experience in a presentation that has and will resonate within those present for a very long time to come. We would like to wish you all the very best for the future and please keep up the great work with the Safety Advocate program."
- Martin (landscape construction and maintenance business)
"Garry's presentation to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers at The Gap was very relevant and well received. His honesty and openness, and his passion to share his mistakes and traumatic experiences for the benefit of others really shone through, and I think will be remembered by the Rangers as they go about their work. His key message to focus and look after yourself at work, so you can go home and enjoy the things that matter most, really resonated with the audience."
- Andrew Hoffman, Department of Environment and Science
"Garry was very well received. He is a very skilled presenter. I have been running conferences and workshops for our members for about 26 years. It is quite rare for anyone to come to me after any presentation, however, one of the farmer's wives came to me later and said his presentation was the highlight of the day to her. Her comment blew me away. I think his emotion got to her. We will all be more aware of our"situation" having heard Garry's story."
- Bruce Sambell, President Aquaculture Association of Queensland Inc.
Garry with Aquaculture Association of Queensland Inc.
"I got nothing but praise from the employees who attended Garry's talk. I had one employee say it was the best presentation he has ever attended. I had another say everyone should attend as it was so good and he could see that we would all benefit from the talk. Staff were talking about it for days after and I really believe it will help some of our employees with safety issues. Garry is doing a wonderful service to share his story."
- Wendy Greenaway, Greenstock Nurseries
"The presentation by Garry was very well received. There were comments such as “it really made me think” and “he was well worth listening to”."
- Deby Ruddell, HR/HSE Advisor, Mackay Sugar – Mosman Mill
Garry presenting at Mosman Hill.
"Gary was a fantastic speaker and gave a no holds barred account of the lead up to and aftermath of his tractor accident that took his right leg and very nearly his life, with a great WHS message throughout."
- Coastal Farming Systems Team, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
"Garry gave a great presentation, residents approached him to tell him it was the best presentation they had ever seen.
Thank you for giving us the privilege of meeting Garry and hearing his story."
- Jo Byway, Retirement by Lendlease
Garry at Retirement by Lendlease.
"Garry absolutely nailed it with our team.
I had asked Garry to focus on complacency – Every single person got the same message – 'keep your mind on the job and reconsider before you take a shortcut' – which surprised me given there were a lot of excellent messages in Garry's story. His delivery, and displaying his pain to the team which is 95% male, was very effective. When discussing the presentation with the teams this morning, all were solemn and contemplative of his message.
Inviting a Safety Advocate to site was the most effective way for our message to reach our team, and it reached 100% of the audience."
- Virginia Greggery, Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Advisor
Garry presenting at Virginia Greggery.
- Oliver Simon, CEO Paroo Shire Council.
"Wow, made me think a bit"
- Tom King, Works Foreman, Paroo Shire Council.
"Really hit the theme for Safe Work Month"
- Daniel Kirk, WHSET Coord, Paroo Shire Council
Garry presenting at Paroo Shire Council.
"Many, many thanks Garry for the presentation that you delivered at Advanta Seeds Toowoomba. The reaction from the attendees as you told your story really brought home the fact that just 'A small lapse in concentration and you could end up seriously injured - or worse. A split second is all it takes'.
Garry as a master story teller made everyone feel as if they were there with him as he relives the experience and although he has told the story many, many times he manages to keep it fresh and realistic in the now, we all felt that we had come off the tractor with him, laying in the field wondering how we were going to survive. Just an incredible story, and all as a consequence of a lapses of concentration.
Garry's presentation was relevant, poignant and fit for purpose, as we are an Agribusiness with many of our employees working on tractor or other moving plant and machinery on farms and in fields during any time of the year. And so, so relevant especially as the statistics show that tractors are the second main cause of injury in agriculture, in Queensland.
Again many thanks Garry for an emotional experience on how a 'moment in time' can change your life forever."
- Iain Martin Blakey, HR &WHS Lead, Advanta Seeds Australia.
Garry at Advanta Seeds Australia.
"Thank you Garry your time and effort to help make the SunWater Fairbairn Dam Spillway Improvement Project's Safety Focus Day a great success. Gary's presentation really captivated our team, reminding them that no one plans to have an accident, but accidents do happen and it only takes a second to change your life. Some team comments included; it was a real eye opener, it really makes you think, to have someone there who has suffered a serious injury really makes it real, these types of presentations are great for the guys reminding them they are not bullet proof.
I would recommend Gary's presentation to any audience, I feel that in today's world the focus on safety is doing such a great job, that people sometimes forget how serious the result a major incident can be.Gary is a champion bloke to do what he does, I am sure that his presentations inspire people STOP, think about their actions and refocus on the task at hand."
- Andrew Rohl, HSE Advisor, Fairbairn Dam Office, SunWater
Gary presenting his story to the Fairbairn Dam Spillway Improvement Project Workforce.
"It was a privilege to have Garry in our region and speaking at our event, so thanks again for this!"
- Stacey Heidenreich, Central Highlands Regional Resources Use Planning Cooperative Limited (CHRRUP)
Garry talking to the team at CHRRUP.
"Our students and Head of Agriculture Mr Bill Oram were fully engaged with Garry's story this morning. We appreciate everyone's time in organising this opportunity for our students – we found it very worthwhile and a valuable message for the young men of this College! A big thank you to Garry for such a worthwhile experience."
- Rebecca Picoto, St Brendan's College
Visit by Garry on 9 October 2018
"Garry's presentation was a very moving account of a farm incident that happened in a flash, but affected the lives of him and his family both financially and personally. His experience should be presented to all the farming community."
- Keven Jackson, O.H.S., Q.A. Advisor, Barcaldine Regional Council
"The hurt and regret that Garry feels even after all this time has passed is still very evident during the retelling of his story. As a Health and Safety Advisor for my Council, I highly recommend Garry and WHSQ for this very worthwhile initiative."
- Gordon Jones, Work Health and Safety Coordinator, Diamantina Shire Council
"Garry explained details of not only his injury and near death experience, but also how it affected his family and the people around him.
The thing that I noticed was while Garry was telling his story the room was very silent. He had the undivided attention of everybody. Nobody moved to check their phone, or duck out to the toilet or excuse themselves for any reason.
I will never forget Garry and the story he told."
- Rebecca Fitzgerald, Croydon Shire Council
"I thought Garry's presentation was one of the most inspirational I've heard. Just shows how a minor lapse in concentration can have such a disastrous result.
I got a bit tired while driving home last week and started yawning every few minutes so I pulled up and had 30 minutes sleep. I reckon that was Garry's influence."
- Darryl Fahey, Managing Director, Audiometric Testing Qld
"Garry is an inspiration and the message he provides is of tremendous value to any workplace.
Garry told his story in a way that makes him relatable to the average worker, and made sure to emphasise that incidents such as his could happen to anyone during any job.
It was easy to see from the moment he began to talk that his incident has changed his life and still makes him emotional to this day.
I believe that witnessing his emotion, especially when talking about his daughter, really drives home his message and the importance of working safely."
- Ashley Lohmann, Quality Assurance and Safety Compliance Officer, Richmond Shire Council
"Garry spoke well and interacted and socialised with everyone. Everyone enjoyed his presentation.
His safety message was on track, and Garry helped us to achieve our safety event goals by discussing the extent of his injuries and the impact it had on his family and rest of his life. "
- Billy McNeil, Supervisor Risk & Compliance, APA Group
"Garry's message was very powerful because he used his incident to get his message across. The fact that his injury is visual meant everyone was all ears. The emotion in his speech also grabbed people's attention. All of the employees that came up to me by day's end where very appreciative of the talk – they thought it was very worthwhile. "
- Brenden Giuffrida, Health, Safety & Environment Manager, Advanta Seeds
Garry & Advanta Seeds team: Anne Davidson, Nick Gardner, Jacinta Goad, Eleisha Samuelsen, Brenden Giuffrida, Mano Naidoo and Matt McLoughlin.
Advanta Seeds managing director Nick Gardner and Garry
"There has been a genuinely positive response to Garry's visit; all those who I have talked to commented on the open and honest talk Garry provided, ie:
"I may not always remember his name but I will always remember what he said."
"It was a powerful message, we can all get distracted."
There have also been a number of colleagues who have approached me to thank the business for providing such an event with a keynote speaker, and I would pass on that thanks to WHSQ and Garry.
NQBP will revisit Garry's message over the upcoming months during our safety meetings and engagements with employees."Remember what Garry said…"
I would recommend Garry to businesses who may be thinking of a Safety Advocate in the future. "
- Pat Cunningham, Manager Health and Safety, North Qld Bulk Ports
Garry talking to the team at North Qld Bulk Ports
"Garry gave a very engaging and compelling presentation of the events leading to his injury, and how it affected his life.
These courageous stories are unassailable in terms of the health and safety message in that they are told with the raw emotion of experience.
Garry is an excellent storyteller and is easy and absorbing to listen to. He speaks from the heart and touches on parts of his personal life which are common to all of us. Whether it was the Mayor or the cleaner, all could relate to the life of an ordinary bloke, with extraordinary resolve to come back for his family."
- David Spann, Regional Director, South West Region, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
Garry provided a great deal of useful and engaging information in regards to keeping safe while on the job. Among some of the most vital points, covering the danger of loss of concentrating during "the home stretch". He is an excellent speaker and we were blessed to have him come out and speak to us, leaving us all with a lot of food for thought.
Awful situation. So brave of him to share his story so we can keep safety at the front of our mind when at work
Thank you for sharing your story Garry and Marlene, I wish you all the best for the future.
Your business can apply for Garry or another of Queensland's Safety Advocates to attend your event and share their story to increase awareness and influence behaviour change, free of charge.
Between a rock and a hard place - Garry's story
- Download a copy of this film (MP4/ZIP, 33MB)
- Order your free copies of Garry's DVD via email@example.com.
Consultative committee for work-related fatalities and serious incidents
If you have suffered as a result of a work-related fatality or serious injury, you can direct message a request to join a closed support group via our Support for families of workplace fatalities, illness and injuries Facebook page.