When Nick finished high school, he planned to move out of his mom’s house and get an apartment. But a workplace incident ended those plans and made him more dependent than he ever was as a child.
In 2001, when Nick was 19, he got a job at a Victoria lumberyard. Six months into the job, 42 sheets of lumber, weighing 1,200 kilograms, fell on him, leaving him an incomplete paraplegic. He spent three weeks in hospital and another few months doing rehabilitation at GF Strong.
The next step was six months of intense physiotherapy at the Gorge Road Hospital. Then finally, after about a year, Nick was able to start walking again.
But today, in spite of his miraculous physical improvements, he continues to face challenges.
“When I’m not in my chair, people can’t easily tell that I’m disabled,” he says. “Sometimes, I have to show them my brace or scars, so they’ll believe that I really am a disabled man, which is frustrating.”
Today, Nick shares those frustrations — and the highs and lows of his recovery — with students and workers, when he speaks about the importance of workplace safety and being prepared for any job.
“Ask more questions, get more familiar with the job — before you start doing things by yourself,” he says. “The more you learn, the safer you are. Always make sure you’re looking out for yourself.
“All that independence you work so hard to gain can be taken away from you in a snap of your fingers,” he warns. “Know your rights at work, because you can get hurt. Just look what happened to me.”