SAndrew Hann was just 25 years old when he fell to his death at a job site in 2013.
He was scaffolder working at a mine southwest of Saskatoon when he fell. Hahn went for lunch that day and when he returned he didn’t have his fall protection gear with him. He felt he was safe enough to continue with his work until he was able to get his gear.
He fell through an open hole in the scaffold and died.
That fall was one too many for the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association. Now, a fall protection demonstration trailer travels across the province in his memory. It was part of the North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) organization’s event to raise awareness of workplace safety.
This trailer visits work sites, is present at safety meetings and at company’s safety days across Saskatchewan promoting fall protection and the proper application of fall protection. Included with this trailer is an educational component and a visual component, both of which are intended to deliver impactful reminders of proper fall protection.
“The point of this (Andrew Hahn) story is that this kind of tragedy can be prevented,” said Mike Moore, a safety advisor with SCSA. “We can’t turn back time, but we can learn from this horrible incident.”
Moore and fellow safety advisors with the SCSA use this teaching moment to tour the province throughout the year to spread the message. The trailer visits various events in Saskatoon and in Regina from early spring to late fall, and from these locations will travel to rural communities.
At one of the more recent events, the trailer toured Prince Albert and hosted students from Carlton Comprehensive Public High School, as well as trades workers, police officers and firefighters.
“In fall protection training, we learn a lot of this stuff in theory, but this (trailer) is a practical exercise that people can really see because we are such visual learners in construction,” Moore explained. “You can tell me things over and over, but until I show me I really don’t believe what you’re telling me.”
Observers are introduced to a 165-pound rescue Randy mannequin that is placed in fall protection safety gear and used in various demonstrations. With it, there’s an interactive discussion centred around proper anchor points and connecting components like lanyards and proper fits for harnesses.
The Rescue Randy is raised with a pully system and dropped five feet.
“The worker hits and the actual impact… it’s very visual,” Moore said. “The Rescue Randy flops and hits the ground really hard.”
In this fall, they’re not using a shock absorber in the lanyard. In the second fall, they do use a shock absorber and it shows the forces applied to the body are significantly less.
Moore said the reactions from observers vary, but mostly there’s a lot of shock and awe, with many leaving the demonstration with an appreciation for fall protection safety gear and practices.
“School-aged kids really see just how important it is to use the right system for fall protection. For more experienced workers that may never use a system or have become lazy or complacent with how they do it, we get to reapply this learning with them.
“We can have all the knowledge in the world when it comes to fall protection, but it isn’t until we actually go through a fall that we come to a realization of, ‘Was it appropriate what I was doing in that instance?’”
The message is consistent for anyone in their teens with no experience to someone is his or her 60s with decades of experience in the construction industry.
“Whether I’m 16 or 65, if I fall from 25 feet the outcome is not going to be very good,” Moore said. “For school-aged kids, if I’m a young worker working at heights at any project I’m going to need training. The message to these kids is to make sure you don’t do anything you’re not comfortable doing. And just because you’re comfortable doesn’t necessarily mean you’re properly trained.”