My Story

My Story: Tony Mudd, CSP

After a decade of working as a safety professional, I’m often asked what caused me to go into the field of workplace safety. What fueled my drive and passion to ensure workers make it home safely all started with a man named Joe.

On Jan. 24, 1996, Joe – a career and company veteran of 25 years, husband, and father of five – went to work and didn’t come home. On that night, his wife of 45 years received one of the most terrifying phone calls of her life. Joe’s employer informed her that she needed to get to the jobsite right away.

Filled with fear, wondering what she would witness when she arrived, she left immediately. When she arrived, she was overwhelmed by the blaring sounds of fire engines and ambulances, her sight blocked by a sea of police officers flooding the crowd. Joe’s wife rushed forward as close as she could get. There she saw Joe’s fellow work community gathered around the facility, eyes filled with tears and faces hung low with grief, asking if Joe was still alive.

As his wife stood there, one of Joe’s friends from the facility approached her. “I’m so sorry to tell you this, but Joe was crushed by 5,000 pounds of lumber.” Unable to bear the news, his wife fainted.

Joe was crushed by a load of wood that was hoisted and accidentally released by an untrained crane operator who claimed that he didn’t see Joe working in the area. The crane operator’s failure to see him changed Joe’s life forever.

Joe was rushed to the local hospital after his legs, feet and lower torso were crushed. He underwent 16 hours of reconstructive surgery. Joe had more than 60 broken bones and was told he’d never walk again. For 12 hard and dreadful months, Joe was paralyzed from the legs down, restricted to a body cast, and unable to walk and care for himself.

After a full year of being confined to a body cast and another two years of physical therapy to regain his mobility, Joe lost his job and his mental health deteriorated from post-traumatic stress disorder. Although Joe survived this incident, it did in fact take his life – his life of providing for his family and being free from pain and agony.

Joe was my grandfather. At age 7, I watched as my grandfather fought for the life he once knew. From struggling to walk with a cane to limping and holding onto walls as he made his way to the restroom, to going from one doctor appointment to another and taking several prescription medications each day, my grandfather was never the same. Although he survived physically, mentally and emotionally, he was never himself again. Workplace safety isn’t just a job – it’s personal. I know what it feels like to be on the other side of the investigation, receiving the call that changes everything. When I think of my grandfather, a hardworking and committed family man who had given so much just to take care of others and who believed in creating his own future, I can’t help but think about that future being taken from him.

I became a safety professional to prevent someone else from having to experience a story like my grandfather’s. To prevent another person from having their whole life changed in a split second. I went into the safety industry because I naturally care about people. I believe all people deserve to make it home safe – no ifs, ands or buts about it!

Tony Mudd

Tony Mudd, CSP
Sensori Safety

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