May 4, 2022

Safety Week 2022: You Bet Your Life When You Gamble With Safety

Haskell returns to visit with Safety Advocates Russ and Laurel Youngstrom, who in 2019 told us the story of how an accident changed their lives.


In 2019, Haskell partnered with Safety Advocates Russ and Laurel Youngstrom to create a Safety Orientation video emphasizing the gravity of one careless act and how it affected every aspect of the couple’s lives. This year, we checked in with the Youngstoms and heard firsthand from Russ, who now suffers from paraplegia, why safety matters.

The injury Russ suffered was his fault. A brash 30-year-old commercial painter, he was working 30 feet above the ground and not following proper safety protocols. An accident caused him to fall.

“When I was laying there and they were cutting my clothes off of me, one of the medics leaned over to me and asked me why I wasn’t tied off,” he said. “I didn’t realize until later that I landed about a foot away from my safety line.”

An MRI revealed that his back was broken in three places, and his spinal cord was severed.

A short time later, Laurel arrived.

“He said, ‘They say I’m paralyzed and I’ll spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair,’” Laurel recalled. “I thought he was joking. That’s what attracted me to him in the first place was his sense of humor.”

He wasn’t joking then, and when Haskell visited with him last month, he issued a deadly serious warning.

“Again, for the workers out there, this rips you apart – mentally, physically, family-wise,” he said. “It’s not worth it.”

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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