On the day Brian fell, Terry Woodman was at home in Penticton, recovering from a fall of her own.
Woodman, who has osteoporosis, had crushed the bones in her leg after an accident on the stairs and was still getting around with a cane.
Her husband, Brian, an electrician, was on a job at an auto-lube shop in West Kelowna. That day, the oil-changing pits in the shop were covered by pieces of plywood held down with screws. Though warnings to walk around the pits were written on the wood, investigators later told Woodman workers had been walking over them all morning, many without realizing.
“It could have been anybody,” she said, “but it was Brian.”
Around 10:30 a.m. on July 16, 2009, Brian stepped onto the plywood. It collapsed, dropping him six feet. He was killed instantly.
“For days, I was just sort of overwhelmed by everything,” Woodman remembers.
After 41 years of marriage, she says adjusting to life alone remains a struggle.
The company in charge of the site, Greyback Construction Ltd., was fined almost $75,000 by Worksafe B.C. in 2011 as a result of Brian’s death. But, Woodman has since learned Greyback plans to appeal the decision.
That has prompted Woodman to start sharing Brian’s story, which she’ll do in Kamloops on Saturday, during this year’s Day of Mourning ceremony. The event is one of many across the country that pays tribute to those who have lost their lives on the job or due to work-related illness. Penticton’s Day of Mourning ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in front of McLaren Arena.
Woodman wants companies to see the consequences of giving safety measures short shrift because they’re inconvenient or too expensive.
“It’s devastating and it’s senseless and it’s hard,” she said. “I know that people who have a husband or a child that is sick, it’s devastating. But at least they get to say goodbye. They get to talk to them.
“But I never had that with Brian. He was just gone. He was there in the morning and, by noon, he was gone.”