Apprentice mechanic Gabe Rea-Bucknall’s push for workplace safety after losing part of his fingers - 15.6.21

A teenage apprentice mechanic and musician who lost parts of three fingers when the engine of a truck he was fixing was turned on says he wants to give others the confidence to speak up about workplace safety.

The 19-year-old and his foreman at an Auckland vehicle repairs business were working on a six-wheeler flatbed truck on March 15 when, Rea-Bucknall says, the foreman, without warning, turned on the engine.

In a split second the top third of Rea-Bucknall’s ring finger and the tips of his middle and pinky fingers on his right hand were gone.

“I’d had my hands on the AC drive belt … [when] the engine turned over, it sucked my hand into a pulley. Then my hand just got shot out of the truck … otherwise I could’ve lost my arm, or been sucked in completely and killed.”

WorkSafe is investigating, and the business owner told the Herald on Sunday he couldn’t comment while that was taking place.

Gabe Rea-Bucknall wants others to know it’s ok to speak up about workplace health and safety issues.  He hadn’t formally raised concerns about health and safety at work previously, but thought attitudes toward it at the business were “very loose”. Rea-Bucknall understands the foreman has received a written warning following his injury.

“We didn’t really have health and safety meetings. When I started there wasn’t really an introduction to everything and codes of practice, it was just ‘get into it and start working’.”

Sharing concerns about health and safety wasn’t easy, but doing so could save someone’s life, he said.

“A lot of people feel they can’t speak up about problems they have in the
workplace – bullying, harassment, health and safety.

“But I wanted to share my story, so people might see it and think, ‘Hey, this actually happened to some guy, and I think we should speak up about what’s happening at my workplace’.”

Source – NZ Herald