“I was cleaning up scraps too close to the conveyor belt underneath a chipper, and I was wearing a rubber glove [when] the rubber part of the conveyor belt actually pulled me in and broke my forearm in half and wrapped me around the roller,” Johnson explains after making a presentation on workplace safety to LP Peace Valley OSB employees in Fort St. John. “I lost all feeling in my left arm right away; it pulled my left arm against the belt, and it pulled my back against the belt, and it actually ripped all the skin off my back.”
Johnson adds, “For me to lock-out a machine and stop the machine, and clean-up properly; it would have taken me an extra five minutes. Now I have zero use of my left arm; it just hangs off my body and does nothing.’
Johnson’s injury –which resulted in very limited wrist and shoulder function on his left arm – had created a downwards spiral of depression for him.
“I figured, you know I have to make the best of something, otherwise I’d just die.”
This realization led Johnson to seek out avenues in which he could share his story with others in an effort to prevent this type of workplace accident from occurring in the future.
“I called Workplace B.C. and said, ‘hey I want to do something positive, I want to go around and talk to places and I hope you guys are ok with that,” and they’re like ‘actually Mark, we have a program for that and we’ll cover you expenses’,” Johnson recalls.
However Johnson says industrial employees don’t necessarily need to sit through his presentation to become safety leaders, but rather an individual just needs to understand that they’re not Superman.
“It really is just a general ideology,” Johnson goes on to say. “[When] I grew up, my exact attitude towards things [was] ‘I’m invincible and I’ll never going to get hurt’ and I was 21 – the statistical age where everyone thinks they’re invincible.”
Johnson again speaks to the importance of having a focused mind when in an environment that demands it.
“It was the first week back on night shift,” Johnson remembers. “We did two-weeks of days and two-week nights, and first day back on night shift I’m not really thinking about my job. I’m thinking about the baseball I’m missing, I’m thinking about my friends; I’m not thinking about my job.”
Johnson concludes by explaining the trickle effect a person’s life and death can have on family members and loved ones.
“Basically your injury does not just affect you; it affects everyone around you and that’s the biggest thing I’ve ever learned.”