When he was 21, Jeff Olsson's life changed in an instant during an otherwise ordinary day at work at the Rocla concrete pipe manufacturer in Fyshwick. He now holds the unenviable distinction of being at the centre of the ACT's largest legal fine against a company over an industrial accident - an incident he had chillingly predicted would happen several months before it did.
While he was pouring concrete moulds, the tip of Mr Olsson's latex glove snagged on a conveyer belt. Within a split second his entire arm was wrenched between two huge rollers. As the safety stop button was on the left side of the conveyer belt, and it was his left arm that was trapped to the shoulder, Mr Olsson could do nothing but scream.
But as his co-workers were wearing ear protection against the sound of the vibrating table, it took a minute or more before a mate spotted him and lunged for the button.
It then took an excruciating 15 minutes for the men to disassemble the rollers to extract Mr Olsson's arm.
Miraculously, his skin did not break and there was not a drop of blood. But the limb that was finally freed had been pulverised and broken into a Z-shape. He suffered extensive internal bleeding from the crushed arteries.
He was rushed to hospital - unconscious. There, Mr Olsson's family were told he would undergo surgery to amputate the limb.
But thanks to the tenacity and skill of orthopaedic surgeon Katherine Gordiev - who painstakingly pieced together what was left of his shattered arm and retracted the severed arteries from up in his armpit to restore the blood flow - he was spared the horror of losing it altogether. ''I owe Dr Gordiev a huge amount. Honestly, I can't even put it into words,'' Mr Olsson said.
Today, he has a constant reminder of the day, with burn scars on the top of his arm from the roller and
surgical scars from five separate operations on the underside. He spent a year in a sling recovering and several years in physiotherapy.
But Mr Olsson, now 30, has been determined to return to as normal a life as he can. With limited use of the arm - which has no biceps muscle, limited movement and little strength - he has even returned to work in construction with a scaffolding company, Rovera.
''They understand I can have issues with lifting things and they make every effort to help me work around it,'' he said.
Mr Olsson has added incentive to stay active now that he's a dad to two young boys. But he still finds the most chilling aspect of his accident was that he had predicted it could happen several months before.
''I was actually an occupational health and safety rep at the company, and part of my duties was to do a risk assessment. The risk assessment done on that specific piece of machinery by me found there were not adequate guards on the belt. I told them that and said it was an accident just waiting to happen. I told them months earlier, but they hadn't acted on it.''
Rocla settled a compensation claim out of court with Mr Olsson, which enabled him to buy a modest home. Meanwhile, ACT WorkSafe inspector Tim Cody forensically investigated the accident, which was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions and went to court.
Mr Cody, now a private safety consultant, still remembers the moment he was informed the court had made a conviction and $200,000 fine. ''I was gobsmacked. But I was also really angry that Jeff had suffered what he'd had to suffer,'' Mr Cody said. He said Mr Olsson's recovery and return to work was inspirational.
Mr Olsson was ''satisfied'' to see the court recognise the seriousness of the accident, but hugely disappointed when an appeal later had the fine reduced by half.
He believes much larger fines - such as those of up to $3 million and five years' jail for company executives now in place under new harmonisation laws across Australia - are fitting. ''In this business, which is all about making a buck, I think there is nothing like personal loss to make somebody pay attention to safety.''
Mr Olsson is also in favour of an Industrial Court to focus specifically on workplace legal issues. ''Something has got to be done about safety in construction in Canberra. There is too much pressure to do it quickly and do it cheaply … In my case, I fell victim to the very accident that I had predicted.''