"Even in death, Sis, you've opened our eyes...

April 27, 2011
KEYWORDS psychology
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This letter was penned by Amy Harville, with assistance from worker safety activist Ron Hayes, to Amy’s sister Tina, who died in June, 2007 four days after a chemical explosion burned 90 percent of her body. Ron has lent support to scores of families of workplace fatality and injury victims, ever since his own son died in a grain silo incident in 1993. Ron says Tina was the oldest of five children in a very close family. “The family is great, they are doing OK,” says Ron. “This story will help with getting through another year.”

My Dearest Tina,

I have been wanting to write this letter for a while, just busy, you know. Everyone here is fine, getting along all right, we all miss seeing you. Dad and brother finished their house and it is great, you know what great work Dad does. Mom is helping with all the kids, taking and picking them up from school, she is so good with them. T hey are wonderful parents.

Jason is working hard, Bryson is playing football, Mary Kate is in school and having a great time and I’m just working a lot.

I saw one of your friends at the store the other day and she said to say hello.

"I've learned so much"

Sis, I have learned so much about workplace safety, I never knew so many people were hurt and killed on the job. It is crazy, 16 workers die every day and another thousand are hurt, what is going on?

Even in death, Sis, you have opened our eyes and helped us do something positive. We are now helping spread the word about workplace safety and what can happen if you do not work safely. We are helping with others who have lost loved ones to a workplace disaster.

It has been two years now since your death on the job. It seems like yesterday. Some days I do not want to get up or go on and truly feel like giving up. Then I get mad and want to do something to honor my sister. Some days I feel like my heart will break but somehow I get the strength to go on. I want you to know how much we all miss you. Not a day goes by I do not think of you and all the great times we had together and wish you were here. I know you are in a better place now and are probably doing great things there also, but we really wish you were here with us.

I want you to know, I love you very much.

Goodbye my angel.

SIDEBAR: A lesson to be learned

I was speaking at a conference last fall when I was approached about coming to a safety celebration for Southern Pine Electric Cooperative in Brewton, Alabama. These great workers, about 70 strong, had gone four years without an injury.

It turns out these great southern folks work as a family and team. They do as I have preached for years- they watch out for each other, they treat each other with respect and as family. They watch each other's back. It was like being at a family reunion. I can tell you this: if we all treated each other with respect and compassion, we would see a great decline in safety-related problems. The Fight Project can be reached at (800) 388-8644 code 19.

- Ron Hayes

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