Welcome to Rhett Brown

A few sobering facts about safety, or ‘lack of safety’, in New Zealand
Home is the most dangerous place in New Zealand. In 2009, 3600 hospital admissions and 500 deaths resulted from accidents at home. One child every two weeks dies at home. Trips and falls account for half of these accidents.

In 2007/08 half of the fatal industries were from the construction industry. On average one person a week dies at work with falls amongst the highest reasons. 6% of work injuries leave people permanently impaired.

All of these accidents cost the country between 4.3 and 8.7 billion annually. Falls cause 40% of hospitalisation in New Zealand. In 2006/07, 377 people died through falls. In 2007, 116 people died at work.

Now all this makes for bleak reading. Most of these accidents are preventable. Mine was. I now talk to any industry group about safety at work, raising awareness and changing the culture of 'she'll be right'. It won’t, because it’s not ‘she’ who will be hurt. It will be you, or a mate.

I AM YOUR LIFESAVER. My mission is to save your life by relating my own experiences. I can clearly demonstrate the lack of safety at my old workplace. These circumstances will in turn be imparted to you all so that YOU will not become a statistic like myself. I will describe what it means to be permanently injured. What it means to my family and friends. What it has cost me emotionally, physically, financially and personally. I want everyone to go home after work the same way they arrived. I never went home. That hurt.

My message is relevant to everyone, every day at home during recreation and in the workplace. My message is about life itself and the good that can always be found in what happens to us.

Rhett Brown video

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It takes a lot to silence a room full of staunch scaffolders, but when former construction worker Rhett Brown wheeled himself to the front and began talking about "the innocuous little fall" that destroyed life as he had previously known it, you could have heard a scaffold pin drop.

Brown, now a tetraplegic needing 24-hour care, was speaking at the first of a series of Safe Scaffolding Project information days, organised by the Department of Labour.