After the fall: Her dad survived the accident, but it tore the family apart

Jason Anker falls from height
Abbi Taylor left home at 15 as her father battled with alcoholism and depression after falling from an unsafe ladder

For Safe Working At Height Week, Abbi Taylor describes how one careless moment turned everyone’s lives upside down.

She was only was three when her dad, himself just 24, fell three metres from an unsupported ladder while repairing a roof. He’d been drinking heavily the night before. He broke his back and would never walk again.

Jason Anker was lucky to survive, but the football-loving youth despaired at being suddenly confined to a wheelchair, and his drinking and depression put a huge strain on his family for the next 16 years, leading Abbi to leave home at 15, as she tells Cristina Lago in the latest episode of the 21CC podcast.

Listen now:

“As I got older, going to secondary school and wanting a social life with friends, dad’s moods from what he was dealing with internally escalated,” Taylor said. “And it was really hard to live with. He was still drinking too much and not dealing with what he was going through, basically.”

It wasn’t until she turned 18 that Anker began giving safety talks. Only then did she begin to understand what had happened to him and what he was going through.

“That was a big learning curve,” she said.

Promoting health and safety

Today, Taylor is the managing director of Proud2bSafe, a company founded by her dad that promotes health and safety at work. Their mission is to prevent avoidable accidents like the one that Anker suffered.

“For a long time, I held a lot of resentment towards his supervisor because on the day of his accident, my dad had been out: it was the night after New Year’s Eve. He had got home in the early hours and his supervisor had picked him up when he was still hungover.

“If he had said, ‘No, you’re not coming to work in that state’, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today. That’s why I think we all have a part to play in these moments that happen on site every single day.”

You can listen to Abbi’s story on the 21st Century Construction podcast.

Safe Working at Height Week runs from 6-12 November 2023.

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