Choosing the right equipment can really be more important than you realize. Safety wasn’t my priority and it almost cost me.
I used to work as an Assistant Direct Sales and Events Manager, I traveled around the U.K and got to eat lots of amazing food at all the great foodie events. My role consisted of setting up events, traveling to the show, assembling the equipment to be used at that particular show, and then working the show.
One week I was getting the equipment ready for the show in Syon Park that weekend. I was having trouble deciding how I could attach a back wall graphic to a marquee that was too big to fit. It was really heavy and I only had two eyelets in the top two corners. I had a few suggestions from my colleagues and some rough ideas about what I could use. I went to a hardware store and picked up a set of bungee cords of different lengths, I tested them out in the office and it worked great
The next day I set off from the office to the event location. Once I arrived I did what I always do, I unloaded the marquee and started to get set up. The last bit was the graphic, I hooked the bungee cord onto the eyelet and hooked it around the polls on the marquee and pulled it down to attach it onto the leg of the marquee. Perfect, it worked well and it was tight. I proceeded to do the same on the other side once I had hooked it around the poll and began to pull it down onto the leg of the marquee. The hook of the bungee cord slipped from the eyelet of the wall graphic and hit me directly in my the right eye with so much force it knocked me to the ground.
I initially tried to stand up but as I did, I instantly felt extremely dizzy and couldn’t stand up straight. I stumbled back and laid in the back of my van. It must have been 5-10 minutes until I was able to sit up without the world spinning around me. My eye was in a lot of pain. I looked in the wing mirror of the van and just saw the whites of my eye had gone completely bloodshot. The whole eye was glazed over and I couldn’t see anything. It felt like there was dirt coating the outside of my eye and I just kept blinking over and over but the blurriness would not leave. I didn’t know what to do.
I arrived back at work and entered the meeting that I had that afternoon, my head and eye was hurting so much I couldn’t concentrate. I kept trying to focus but the strain that was being put on my eye was too much to bare, so I jumped in a taxi and went to the hospital. After seeing an eye specialist, I was told that I had Hyphema, which is bleeding at the back of the eye as well as some bruising. The blunt trauma that I had encountered resulted in injury to the iris and the trabecular meshwork. I had scratched the right side of my eye and indented it with the force of the hook on the bungee cord. I also had Anterior Uveitis, which is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye (the Ciliary body). The specialist explained to me that my vision in the side of my eye may come back over time or it may not – it could also get worse. I have caused permanent damage to my eye. That was probably the worst moment of my life, when I realized I’d severely damaged my eye.
My vision started to improve but it is now currently starting to deteriorate. If I had to describe the way I see through the right side of my eye it would resemble the view through a frosted window. It feels like there is always something residing in my eye. I’ve lost 20% of vision in my right eye because of a bungee cord, which could get worse over time. My pupil doesn’t dilate anymore, meaning that my pupil is constantly large, which is allowing more light the normal to enter my eye causing me to have headaches regularly and my eye being overly sensitive to light.
I wish I had been trained on safety in the work place and had been provided with equipment that posed less risk to my health and well-being. I also didn’t ask for help or support regarding this issue. Younger people tend to feel invincible and may not have the life experience to give workplace safety much thought. Sometimes it takes stories of real life workplace accidents to raise their awareness and get them on board.
Chloe O'Brien moved to London from a little town in Dorset to pursue her passion in Photography. After finishing her degree in Photography and Media at University she went on to start her career as a freelancer. Although she had a career dabbling in events and sales, food and photography is something Chloe always falls back to. Photography is what brought her to London and that’s what’s going to keep her here.