Business

Iowa electrician who survived workplace explosion stresses safety

Price Electric hosted a day-long safety training event Thursday. (Thomas Friestad/The Gazette)
Price Electric hosted a day-long safety training event Thursday. (Thomas Friestad/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Taking job safety shortcuts under an all-too-common mentality — “hurry up, get it done and it’s not going to happen to me” — can result in disastrous consequences, such as those a Marion electrician said he experienced firsthand.

Brandon Schroeder, founder of Believe in Safety, served as keynote speaker at a day-long safety training event held by Price Electric of Robins on Thursday, at Longbranch Hotel and Convention Center in Cedar Rapids.

Schroeder addressed approximately 170 company employees in recounting his near-death experience with an arc flash explosion in 2011, as he was disconnecting a temporary power feed cord without wearing safety gear.

He showed event attendees graphic images of severe burns to his hands and face, sharing the story of his month-long hospital recovery and experience dealing with depression after his release.

“When you have an accident like this, you’re not going to wake up from a bad dream, and you have to live with the consequences,” said Schroeder, gesturing to one of his burn pictures.

Something that always will bother Schroeder, he said, was that his wife had to see him in his injured state.

“Imagine how you would feel if someone you loved, someone you cared about made a decision to get something done quickly at work and ended up like that or worse,” he said.

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An employee’s preventable injury also could result in their company receiving a workplace hazard violation, Schroeder said, leaving their former co-workers to miss out on contracts and possibly face layoffs.

Taking proper precautions and speaking up when co-workers are taking shortcuts are key to workplace safety, he said — otherwise, “It’s just a matter of time before you have an accident like mine or worse.”

Representatives from the Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Hawkeye Fire and Safety and Marion Fire Department also were slated to speak at the event.

Price Electric employs approximately 170 people in the Cedar Rapids and Des Moines areas.

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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