MELBOURNE, Australia — Professional athlete Jack Swift, who competed at the 2010 World Championships and the 2012 Paralympics in London, visited Ford Broadmeadows employees to share his experience of returning to work after a horrific injury.
Swift is the ambassador of a powerful campaign for WorkSafe, which is the occupational health and safety arm of the Victorian WorkCover Authority. He spoke to Ford Broadmeadows employees, spreading the word about the benefits of returning to work after injury and revealed the many health risks faced by workers who do not get back to work as soon as safely possible.
New WorkSafe data reveals that being off work for an extended period of time can be extremely detrimental to a worker’s health. And the longer an injured worker is away from work, the less chance they have of returning to the workforce.
“Our most valuable asset at Ford is our people and nothing is more important than their safety and well-being. Ford is privileged and delighted to work with WorkSafe and Jack Swift to deliver the message about the benefits of safe work and return to work programs. We’re always going further at Ford to positively impact on worker safety and well-being,” said Georgia Danos, Safety Manager, Ford Australia.
Swift was just 21 and working on an inner Melbourne construction site when a 14-tonne excavator ran over his right leg, crushing it below the knee. Conscious throughout the ordeal, he was rushed to hospital and his leg was amputated the next day. The next 13 months he was off work would be the worst time of his life.
“I thought losing a leg was like being paralysed,” Swift said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to hang around my mates, play football, let alone return to work — I couldn’t comprehend where my life was going. Now, I can do as much as, probably more, than many able-bodied people can do,” said Swift.
WorkSafe Chief Executive Denise Cosgrove said it was not just the injured person’s own determination to get back to work that counted.
“The role played by family and friends, employer, doctor and other medical professionals is crucial in the return to work process,” Cosgrove said.
Ford is a key supporter of WorkSafe Victoria and one of several organisations in Melbourne who will hear Swift’s important return to work message.