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Session and Speaker Bios
Going to Work Should Not Be a Grave Mistake -
Tonya Ford, USMWF
Presentation Information: Going to Work Should Not Be A Grave Mistake and yet over 14 workers are killed each day in the United States leaving their family with many unanswered questions of that tragic incident and wondering how do they go on, where do they go and what should they do. USMWF strives to honor, support, prevent and educate the importance of a safe workplace. The presentation will touch on USMWF, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, Leading to a safe workplace, How to turn such a tragic incident and turning it into something positive and how we are making a difference.
Speaker Information: Ms. Ford resides in Lincoln, NE and is the Executive Director of United Support & Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF Org. Inc.) a national not-for-profit organization that offers support, guidance and resources to families that have been affected by work related incidents. Ms. Ford became an active volunteer for USMWF in 2009 after her 51-year-old Uncle Robert (Bobby) Fitch was fatally injured at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Company in Lincoln, Nebraska. Tonya soon found out after her loss that she was not alone and that there is over 14 other family members each day that are directly affected by a work related incident.
Tonya took her loss and turned it into something positive. She is the proud host of USMWF's Workers' Memorial Day Events in Nebraska, including a candlelight vigil honoring the men and women that have been injured or killed in a work related incident. Each October Tonya walks with Nebraska Family members in the Harvest of Harmony parade gaining attention to the importance of workplace safety and reaching out to other families across Nebraska.
In 2012 Tonya Ford was recognized by National Council for Occupational Safety and Health and received The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health Community Activism Award.
The Buried Truth Uncovered-
Presentation Information: Take advantage of the opportunity to listen as Eric Giguere, a 42 year old former construction worker from Phelps, NY, shares his story of how he was buried alive while working in a trench. Eric explains the circumstances and events that led up to his accident and the profound effects it has had on him and his family for the last fifteen years. Eric speaks from the heart with a desire for the listeners to learn from his death defying safety message. He has a very genuine approach and the intent of his presentation is to prevent this experience from ever happening to anyone again. Eric explains how he is an average guy and a series of extraordinary events left him with an unbelievable story to tell. Once you have heard Eric’s story, damage prevention will be more important to you than ever before!
Speaker Information: Life for Eric Giguere only looked up. A capable worker with a good job and good pay, he married on September 28, 2002. Within a week, the newlyweds would be on their honeymoon. Six days after the wedding Eric went to work and looked forward to leaving for his honeymoon after his shift was over. That joy never came to be.
Eric had 5 years experience as a union laborer, and was two months into his first trenching project. The crew was installing a 12-inch water main. Eric got down into the 6.5 foot trench to inspect the pipe, and the trench walls collapsed. He was buried under several feet of soil. Eric panicked. He was unable to breathe under the crushing weight. His fear began to subside and a feeling of warmth and comfort overcame him. Eric was dying.
He regained consciousness in the hospital where he learned of the quick action of his team to dig him out. The doctors told Eric he suffered permanent brain damage from the lack of oxygen. Despite the odds against any life other than one of permanent disability, Eric never stopped fighting to overcome what he was told was now impossible.
Eric is an average guy who had the typical attitude toward safety: "Accidents happen, but not to me". Until the one that nearly took his life. Now Eric's mission in life is to make sure the arrogance he had toward safety doesn't become yours. His message is simple and serious, “This can happen to you.”
Eric lectures about his experience and his focus on safety – your safety. He has consulted for many companies, such as ExxonMobil, NiSource, PG&E and Questar Gas. He has spoken at many safety seminars including the American Society of Safety Engineers’ Professional Development Conference, the National Safety Council, the Common Ground Alliance Conference and Expo and the VPPPA. Eric has a great relates with the average “working man” and tells audiences about his personal story from the heart.