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ON Series: Overcoming barriers after a near death injury

Bruce O'Grady was crushed in a forklift incident and suffered four fractured vertebrae, collapsed lungs, a broken pelvis, fractured ribs, damaged spleen and liver, crushed nerves from the waist down and partial bowel removal, as well as ongoing complications. Bruce's determination to return to work resulted in him receiving the Injured worker achievement award as part of the 2017 Safe Work and Return to Work Awards.

Watch Bruce's webcast and learn about the strategies he used to overcome the physical and psychological barriers associated with his return to work following such a serious workplace injury.

ON Series - Workplace bullying and mental health

- [Narrator] Welcome to today's on series session, overcoming the barriers of a near death injury. The office of industrial relations provides free education to stakeholders within the worker's compensations scheme in Queensland to improve rehabilitation and return to work outcomes for businesses and workers.

- [Dispatcher] Okay, just continue doing resuscitation, alright?

- [Man] 27, 28, 29, 30.

- [Dispatcher] Okay.

- [Man]

- [Dispatcher] So, is somebody doing CPR on the patient?

- [Man] Are ambulance en route? Trying this, I'm risking a life.

- [Dispatcher] The ambulance are on their way, are you doing CPR on the patient?

- [Man] Yeah I am, we got a defib here.

- [Dispatcher] You have a defib, that's good. Put on the defib.

- [Man] Okay got one here.

- [Dispatcher] Okay make sure everyone is clear when you're gonna do a defib, okay?

- [Man] Yep.

- [Narrator] As you can imagine, there are many barriers associated with Bruce's complex and serious injuries listed on your screen. Bruce's motivation to return to work is as real and genuine as it gets. As you hear his confidence in presenting improve throughout the next few minutes, so do his strategies and advice.

- [Bruce] I feared that I could no longer walk, ride my trike, drive a vehicle, they took all my licences, and I could no longer work. I died at the scene of my accident. I died another four times while I was in the PA hospital. From a blood clot that got loose and travelled up my leg and laid on my heart. The surgeon was surprised that I recovered from all of this. They shifted me from PA to Ipswich Base Hospital. While I was in the hospital, my wife came in every day to see me. She didn't have to, but she did. She didn't drive, she had her own problems with a back issue. My work gave her taxi vouchers to help her get to see me. WorkCover also gave her vouchers to get there. She still used the bus, even though it might have been raining. Rehabilitation was done in the hospital for the first 12 weeks, then outside the hospital, but still under the supervision of the hospital. In hospital you feel pretty down. You have lots of time to think, you think, self, there is no point being down. You have to do something. I figured I have all the licences where I work, some the highest you can get. I said to work, "How about I go as a trainer?" So, I worked on a Certificate IV with Trent Court at work, rehab, and Return to Work coordinator. Turned around and saw the boss, and he said "Yes. "Go for it." It was a 12-month course that I did from home with the help of my wife and Trent Court in Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. We also had to learn how to use the computer, which at present time, I now know how to turn one on. I found that while I was doing my rehabilitation while in the hospital and while I was at after-hospital care, that their goals not necessarily met with mine. The goals were like a rehabilitation box, and my injuries didn't allow me to fit in that box, but also challenging to complete. Each person needs to decide for themselves that they can do it, and then they need to decide that they are going to do it. Communication was big. My wife and I would communicate directly with a few different peoples through the rehabilitation. I had a few people I needed to keep in touch with regularly. My wife helped me to keep in touch with the rest of the support network. If I wasn't able to contact these people, my wife would contact them for me. My children were all supportive. Trent is Maxcon Rehabilitation Return to Work Coordinator, and also works at my workplace. Trent would call my wife while I was in hospital and call me once I was home from hospital to check how I was going. Dr. Peter Nelson was the work GP. He was very support in my recovery. Anything that I found that he thought I needed to do, I would do. He sent me where I needed to go. Judith Craig was the Case Manager from WorkCover Queensland. She was brilliant. She made life easy. She kept me in contact with my wife, and myself, Maxcon. I could call her and ask her anything, and she would help me where she could. She worked really hard to help me go throughout. She was a godsend. I found that in my work situation it was easy to see people and to talk to them. Even while I was in hospital, my workmates came in to see me. For some, it was difficult as they lived quite a distance, but they still came and saw me. It was good that work allowed people to visit me. And they also picked up my wife if passing. I was also informed that they had toolbox meetings and gave updates on my health. Work had an awards ceremony for Queensland Ambulance Service with teh four staff that saved my life. They invited me to a work barbecue. It was pretty good. They put on the barbecue, meet the people, after I came out of hospital. I was still in a wheelchair. They organised, even, for Judith Craig to turn up. And the paramedics and the communications person from the Gold Coast Ambulance Service. They all came around, and all four, that saved my life were given an award. I found that after my accident there were a lot of things that I couldn't do. But I said to myself "Self, get off it "You got to do something." As I said, I had already done a Certificate 4 in training and assessing with the help of work. Work were very appreciative, and I was appreciative, and I just kept saying that I'm going back to work, and I'm going to get there regardless. I have a life in front of me, and the people supported me, which is my wife and kids, even though it's only my wife at home and my kids all look after themselves. But like all kids, they still need a helping hand. So you just got to go forward; no point looking back. My message to everyone else that gets injured: "If you don't have a go, "you will never know."

- Thanks, Bruce, for sharing your experiences and the practical strategies you implemented to ensure your successful return to work. I'd like to thank Maxcon Industries for supporting Bruce and helping to develop this webcast today. We encourage our viewers to send any questions or feedback about this session to our inbox: Thank you for listening.

[End of Transcript]

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