Better Support for Injured Workers’ Families

How One Woman Turned her Tragedy into an Organization that Helps Families Cope with the Burdens of Loss

by Brad Bradish, Manager, Injury Risk Management for SRG

At SRG, our number one priority is the safety of our Team Members. As part of my role, I regularly attend WSPS (Workplace Safety & Prevention Services) sessions to learn about industry news, legislative changes and sometimes even groups and committees that have involved themselves in the world of safety.  At a recent meeting in London, I was introduced to Threads of Life by speaker Elisa Bowley.

Threads of Life helps families of workers who have been permanently or tragically injured while on the job. They assist the entire family in all manners after an accident. The organization was founded by Shirley Hickman in London Ontario after her son suffered a work place accident. Her 18 year old son Tim was working for local hockey arenas as an Ice Cleaner Operator. He hadn’t received proper training, nor did anyone have any of the manuals for his style of ice cleaning machine. Tim was filling up the water to get ready to clean the ice. He put the hose in the tank turned it on and walked out to get some other materials. When he came back into the room to remove the hose, an explosion occurred and Tim was critically injured. He did not survive.

Speaker Elisa Bowley then read through her own tragedy of her 21 year old son Jeremy who was working a summer job for a rental company. He was assisting in setting up a tent with five other young workers. There are differing accounts of supervision on that shift, but on this day in particular, one of the tent poles struck an overhead electrical line critically electrocuting 4 workers, all under the age of 25. Unfortunately Jeremy did not survive his injuries.

Elisa recalled to our group that she was astounded that there was and still is no government assistance for families of injured workers. WSIB only covers the worker and does not provide any help to their families. She was extremely thankful for the work that Shirley has done creating the organization Threads of Life.

Each year across Ontario, on the first Sunday of May, Threads of Life hold their major fundraiser – The Steps for Life Walk. This year Steps for Life events were held in May, in 30 communities across Canada including London, Cambridge and Hamilton. Donations will continue to be accepted for this year’s campaign until July 31. For more information about Threads of Life and their Steps for Life Walk, please visit


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