When I heard Roberta Sheng-Taylor had won a high profile safety award, I was curious to find out why she chose a career in workplace health and safety – so I phoned her and asked.
Roberta said she was drawn to workplace safety from an early age. Back in the 70s, as a kid in Vancouver, Roberta and her family experienced the tragedy of workplace injury. Her dad Robert was injured while cutting sheet metal in his garage. Not wearing safety glasses – like most other workers at the time – he lost an eye.
Up until then, Mr. Sheng had been supporting his family by running a successful business, installing heating and electrical systems. The injury changed everything.
“From that day forward I was very safety-driven and first aid-driven,” Roberta says. “As a youngster I’d always be the kid who was making up the first aid kit. I was trying to prevent this from occurring because that really shook up our family unit when I was very young.”
Roberta said her family’s experience with workplace injury gives her perspective on what others go through: “I’ve talked to families who have been left behind, and it’s so painful to see these people suffering years later. I know, because I’ve lived through that kind of thing.”
“At least my father is still alive after the injury. I can only imagine what it’s like when people you care about are killed on the job,” said Roberta. “You know what? There’s no job out there worth injuring yourself or killing yourself over — absolutely none.”
In November 2009, Roberta received a Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Public Safety from the B.C. Public Safety Authority for her contributions to public safety in B.C. She’s currently the health and safety manager for LTS Solutions/Ledcor and before that was an industry specialist at WorkSafeBC, where she was a driving force behind the TruckSafe Strategy and the Fraser Canyon Highway Safety Corridor, among other things.
Kudos to Roberta for her contributions! No doubt her efforts have saved many lives in our province.