Tiffany's film is about making sure that young workers are able to return home safely to family and friends at the end of their working day. All workers and employers need to be aware of the unique risk profile young people have which makes them vulnerable in the workplace.
At 18, Tiffany Ward was severely injured at work when both of her arms were caught in a potato processing auger. This film highlights the traumatic impacts of the incident. It describes Tiffany's battle to live with the financial, physical and emotional consequences of her injury.
Now 22 and married to Matt with two children, Tiffany has shown incredible resilience and spirit in getting on with her life after the incident. Tiffany has shared her story to make workers more aware that a workplace incident can have life-long consequences.
Check out the resources below as to how your workplace can get involved.
Please note: There are confronting medical images used within this film.
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TITLE PAGE: In it for the long haul: The Tiffany Ward story
DONNA HEELAN (WHSQ): Manufacturing industries in Queensland can be so diverse they can go from meat to mechanical to metal and cover absolutely everything in between.
And there is a lot of moving plant or moving equipment anything from using knives to saws to angle grinders.
People are use to doing the same thing over and over again. Ah but unfortunately it's when they do something outside their normal day to day task is when incidents or injuries can occur.
Injures in manufacturing industry can be anything from a strained lower back from lifting something the wrong way through to a wound injury from a knife to having a finger or a toe cut off by a saw to being run over by a piece of mobile plant a forklift or having your arm caught in an auger.
JEFF MCGREGOR (Tiffany's dad): She was good growing up - great daughter.
Yeah, she was my pride and joy.
Always wanted a baby girl.
Had the two boys first, but got my daughter.
And, of course Tiff being my baby, she was special.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): Before my incident I was like any normal teenage 18 year old girl.
ADAM UPTON (Tiffany's brother): Very popular. She was school captain, but she could have been anything.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): I didn't think I had a chance with her.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): We got together officially four weeks before I had my accident.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): We didn't even really know if we loved each other that much.
You know, sort of, the first stage when you find out if you love someone or not, and then yeah this happened.
GENERAL TITLE SLIDE - In it for the long haul: The Tiffany Ward story
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): Where I worked, I basically peeled potatoes, and then, at the end of the day, would clean machines.
Nobody had a particular spot where they cleaned, so it was just wherever you got was where you got and, this day, nobody was cleaning the auger, so I thought "Oh my turn, I guess. I'll go do it".
And I was cleaning inside there, and it was turned on…while my arms were inside.
So, I don't know whether somebody's reached over and has hit the wrong button, because they were all on the same switchboard.
All I remember is it coming on and thinking "Oh no. This ain't good."
DONNA HEELAN (WHSQ): Her right arm had got caught in by the auger, and it was starting to drag her into the auger.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): Because it spins, my arm has spun up inside it.
And then I've reacted and stuck my left hand in, to try and pull my right arm out, and it got caught as well.
And I just see blood and flesh and stuff going down my arms, and I remember screaming, and somebody coming over and turning the machine off.
DONNA HEELAN (WHSQ): She was quite high off the ground.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): They had to have somebody hold me until the fire brigade and stuff turned up.
DONNA HEELAN (WHSQ): From the witnesses at the time, they said Tiffany was quite calm through the whole thing.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): I was caught in the machine for 40 minutes.
Felt like it …yeah, it was forever.
DONNA HEELAN (WHSQ): When I go there, Tiffany had just been airlifted out by CareFlight to Brisbane, to the hospital. The most confronting thing is you've got a young person that's gone to work for the day, and is coming home, quite potentially without her arm.
ADAM UPTON (Tiffany's brother): She was as good as on her deathbed.
JEFF MCGREGOR (Tiffany's dad): Tiffany's mother and I were on our 25th wedding anniversary. We were in Boulia, which is about two hours south of Mt Isa.
And I got a phone call, and it was a surgeon.
He said "Because she'll be unconscious when they bring her in, you're the next in line". "Can I give them permission to cut her arm off?"
I said "Mate, I don't care what you do – just keep here alive. We'll be there in the morning."
ADAM UPTON (Tiffany's brother): Gut-wrenching.
Absolutely gut-wrenching to see you little sister, only 18, tubes all down her throat, everything just to keep her alive.
JEFF MCGREGOR (Tiffany's dad): Anytime you hear your daughter or a family member's had an accident.
You know, of course, you think the worst.
And then when you get a phone call to say you've got to give them permission to cut your daughter's arm off, at 18 year old, it's not the best feeling.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): Dad and Matt both struggled. I could see, you know, they'd come in and they were wanting to be there to support me and stuff, but I know it was hard for them.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): That first day we seen her, I nearly pass out there and then. I felt like I was going to throw up, and got real light-headed and had to sit down and just chill out for a bit. And then she woke up, and the first question she asked me was, "If you're going to go, go now."
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): I said to him, "If you're not going to be able to handle me either having one arm or all the scars and stuff, l said leave now."
I said, "Don't hang around. Don't leave at the end when it gets too hard."
I said, "It's gonna be hard".
I said, "Leave now if you want to go."
And he said it broke his heart.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): I said, "I'm not going anywhere."
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): I guess I just …I wanted to know if he was in it for the long haul.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): I just knew it was…that girl.
I didn't care if she got her arms amputated, or if was worse off, or if it didn't happen – she was mine, and I wasn't letting her go.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): And…he never left. I was in hospital for six weeks. He had two days off. And that was only because my parents made him.
JEFF MCGREGOR (Tiffany's dad): He just sat there and done everything for her.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): If anyone loved anyone, they would do the same thing.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): I think I had six or seven operations.
It was my right arm that I originally got caught, and I done my nerves, my tendons… I done basically everything.
You can see the scar that goes around, and that was basically all gone. That was ripped. And so what they've done, they've actually taken the muscle and the flap off the top of my left thigh.
And then I've had a shattered elbow, which had bone missing, so they've done a bone graft from my left hip to replace the bone, and I had plates and screws in my elbow.
And I shattered both wrists, but in my right wrist I have a plate and screws to hold my wrist together.
So, on my left hand side, I done my arteries and some tendons and some nerves. I didn't completely cut those – it was just a little bit, so I've go pretty much full function back in my left hand, but it will never be the way it was. Like, my fingers are wonky and stuff.
But I don't have any function in my right hand.
I can wiggle it, and that's it. I still have movement – well, limited movement – in my elbow.
So it's basically…They call it a ‘post'.
JEFF MCGREGOR (Tiffany's dad): When Tiff first come home, there was nothing she could do.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): Like, I mean nothing. Matt had to look after me from the day I got out of hospital.
I mean showering, toileting, feeding…
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): It was like having a baby, you know what I mean?
It was just full care.
JEFF MCGREGOR (Tiffany's dad): She was a right-handed person. Now everything's has got to be done left-handed.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): I can't lift a lot of things over my head, because I can only use one hand.
JEFF MCGREGOR (Tiffany's dad): She Jars, she has trouble with – opening jars. Just a simple…making a cup of tea or coffee, she struggles.
There is things she'll probably never be able to do.
But that's where Matt will do it.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): He still cuts up my food now. I still can't hold a knife and a fork to cut my food up.
So I do struggle, I do have days.
ADAM UPTON (Tiffany's brother): The biggest hit I thought she would take was mentally, because going from being the way she was to being all scarred up and damaged…
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): Well, she's 18, 19 year old, and most girls then want to put make-up on and look pretty, and there she is with scars all over her.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): Well, I can be in the shops, anywhere, and I can just have people that will just stop and just watch me as I walk past.
I feel like freak show, for people to just stand there and stare.
The way I cope – I think, to describe it best, I have Matt and I have my dad. And now I have Billy. And they keep me sane, I think.
If I was a single-18-year-old girl when I had my accident, I'd be completely different. But knowing that my scars and the way my arms are and all the scars and stuff on my legs don't bother Matt, I think that makes it easy.
I feel for Matt. There's a lot of stuff he hasn't spoken to anybody about.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): Not even my mates or anyone. I just, sort of, kept to myself.
Around everyone, I was fine, but inside I was just…Every day I use to have nightmares and wake up and grab her and say "Are you alright? Are you alright?" and, sort of, just hold her and that.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): I do think it was preventable. Um, they didn't have things in place that they should have had things in place.
I think they should have a safety switch, where all machinery's locked down before cleaning.
DONNA HEELAN (WHSQ): Had the machine have had the guard back on it, Tiffany's arm wouldn't have been able to get into the auger.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): She'd never been inducted on how to use the machine, and all that.
DONNA HEELAN (WHSQ): Young people are vulnerable, in that they're quite often in their first job. They might not have had any previous work experience. They won't have any training, or may not have any training in what they're doing. And everything they're doing is new, and sometimes they don't understand the risks of what they're actually taking place.
Older workers can be just as vulnerable. Older workers can sometimes become complacent with what they're doing – they've done it a thousand times before, and they just keep doing the same thing over and over again, regardless that they may be conducting risky behaviour.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): I just want people to know it can happen to anybody.
It doesn't only happen to middle-aged men.
DONNA HEELAN (WHQ): The key message would be - have a look at what you do – have a look at what you do safely and look at it from your child's perspective – would you be happy for your son or daughter to do what you're doing?
Would you be happy for your son and daughter to do what you're asking your workers to do?
And if the answer's no, or you're not sure, you might need to have another look about it, and have a bit of a rethink.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): Have a look at what you're about to do.
You can always take a bit of extra time and come home a bit late, not rush the job.
BILLY WARD (Tiffany's son): Daddy!
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): Daddy!
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): I think a family and kids…they're more important. So…
JEFF MCGREGOR (Tiffany's dad): Why I wanted a daughter so bad, cause my ambition in life was to walk me daughter down the aisle.
And, three months ago, I got to do it.
The most proudest day of my life.
ADAM UPTON (Tiffany's brother): Not everyone's as lucky as Tiff, you know? It's only ‘cause she's such a fighter and a battler that she survived.
JEFF MCGREGOR (Tiffany's dad): She's grown up a hell of a lot – too quick for her age, I think.
You know? She was a teenager.
ADAM UPTON (Tiffany's brother): Just out of school, and just starting to get a feel for life. She never got to make her own choices.
It was just the path that she was pushed into.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): She's done so well to get here, and we've go our whole life ahead of us now.
You take every day as it comes.
We'll be right.
We've got each other, so… there's nothing else we need.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): I'm quite content with how things are at the moment.
All that I want in the future is for Matt and I and the kids to be happy, and have our family and friends around us.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): I always think of what life would be like, but then…
…I'm happy with my life.
Like, most people think, "Oh yeah it's going to be too hard," but what we've got, most people don't have, they don't know they've got it. The love we've got for each other's just…unreal.
TIFFANY WARD (nee Upton): You know, I know he's in for the long haul, and I'd be lost without him, I think.
MATT WARD (Tiffany's partner): Bye-bye. Ironing-board – Mummy doesn't know how to use one of them, does she? Eh.
RUN TIME: 12 min 47 secs
Tiffany Ward - Aspirations poster
Tiffany Ward - Young worker poster
Tiffany Ward - Case study
Tiffany Ward - Email footer
Tiffany Ward - Email footer
My message is all about being healthy and safe at work.
As an ambassador for this safety message, you can be an ambassador for safety at your work too. Working with WHSQ has been a really great experience and I'm excited to hopefully continue working closely with them into the future because it's given me a chance to do something to help others.
You don't need to wait until an incident occurs before you make a change at the workplace. Think about the hazards and risks that are there and make a suggestion. Often enough you'll find these ideas are taken seriously. Get the support of your work health and safety representative or safety manager.
You might end up saving someone else from having horrific injuries or worse.
All workers and employers need to be aware of the unique risk profile young people have which makes them vulnerable in the workplace.