No justice for Dallas
There are no words to describe the pain Chris and Tamie Hardy feel every single day.
They've been trying though — trying to find just the right words to explain the sadness. They've been looking for answers. Looking for hope. The bereaved parents have been on this harrowing crusade for three years now, finding little solace along the way.
It's still a struggle to smile. Still a battle to enjoy life.
"Nobody knows this pain," Tamie said in a 2012 interview with the Observer. Gasping for breath with hand on her chest, tears welled up in her eyes.
Two armbands were hanging in her Jeep's front window: One made from black cloth, the other one white. The two lines printed on those two armbands explain why Hardy's heart is aching:
Dallas Christopher Hardy
December 27, 1991 - February 10, 2011
Three years later, those two lines still cut them to the core.
They explain why their hearts will always ache.
News that one of Agassiz's young sons had died after a workplace injury absolutely rocked the small town.
Dallas Hardy, a 19-year-old with hopes and dreams of leaving here to explore the great outdoors. Hardy was a young man who learned how to fish and hunt, and then donated his first kill to local First Nation elders. He knew almost everyone in town, and could lighten up a room with a flash of his handsome smile.
He was also the only son of Chris and Tamie Hardy.
Three years after their son was fatally injured at work, the Hardys have so many questions that still need answering. He was one of 59 B.C. workers who died due to workplace injuries in 2011.
Worksafe would consider Hardy a young worker, being between the ages of 15 and 24. This category of worker is the most susceptible to serious injury. According to a Worksafe fact sheet, 55 per cent of all serious injuries occur during the first six months of employment. Those are injuries like amputations, head and spinal cord injuries.
The year before that, more than 6,300 young workers were injured on the job, and two were killed.
Dallas Hardy was working at Rimex in Agassiz when his coveralls were caught by a radial drill he was operating. He was pulled by the machine, and died from his injuries. In 2012, Worksafe BC released a report that stated "the firm failed to arrange the work area in a way that allowed the worker to operate the drill safely. It also failed to adequately safeguard its equipment and effectively train and supervise its workers."
Rimex was handed a $71,431.86 fine for its role in the workplace death. The company did not follow through with the appeal process. However, that fine does not bring back the Hardy's son. And because they weren't listed as dependents, they never received any compensation for their loss.
"Worksafe failed us," Chris Hardy said earlier this week. "We pay the price, and Worksafe gets paid the fine."
He feels it is Worksafe's job to make sure job sites are safe prior to any work taking place.
"By allowing them to operate without being inspected first, they're allowing this to happen," he said. "It raises a lot of questions."
Worksafe fines employers heavily for repeated or serious violations. In 2011, the amounts levied against employers ranged from $700 to $250,000.
Jeff Dolan, Director of Investigations for WorkSafeBC said "an employer is not penalized if they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent risks to their workers.”
But while children and spouses are given benefits for their lost loved ones, parents are not. Hardy said a settlement would have helped "ease the pain and loss" by allowing them more time to grieve, as well as assisting with the costs of laying their son to rest. In total, that tallied up to more than $15,000. More than 600 people attended to mourn the 19 year old.
The community stepped in to raise funds for the couple, but they received nothing from Worksafe.
"I don't know who made these rules," Tamie Hardy said. "His estate should be awarded a settlement. They took his life. I feel like I've been robbed."
Worksafe released the incident investigation report to The Observer upon request. It states that Hardy's lack of experience on the machinery he was operating was a factor in the incident. It stated that the work procedures in place at the time of the incident were inadequate to effectively train or instruct workers in the safe use of the radial drilling machines.
It was also found that the lighting was inadequate, and that Hardy was intoxicated while working.
"He was a regular pot smoker, and Chris and I knew that," his mom said. "He wasn't a bad kid. We knew he smoked, but we didn't know he was smoking at work."
He had been on his shift for almost eight hours at the time of the incident. And after reading the IRR, it seems to her that the accident probably would have happened either way.
Rimex has since told the Observer that it has a Health and Safety Officer in place.
This week, as every year, the Hardys are remembering the son they lost tragically on Feb. 10, 2011. They had reached out to the media in 2012 and again this week, in an effort to tell Dallas' story, and let people know that Worksafe isn't enough; workers need to look out for their safety on the job.
Their son had only been 19 for one month, was working at a great-paying job, and had the world ahead of him, they said.
"Dallas was everything to us," Tamie said. "We poured all our love and everything into him."
Even though three years has passed, they are still reeling from the loss.
"There has been no justice for Dallas," Tamie said in 2012.
And nothing has changed for them in the years since.