Teen safety program takes speaker on the road

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TUMWATER – A Longview man who lost his arm in a workplace accident more than a decade ago will be the guest of a national bottling company this week, thanks to his work as a safety advocate with the Department of Labor & Industries.

Matt Pomerinke, who lost an arm when he was 21 and working at a paper mill, is the primary speaker for L&I's Injured Young Worker Speakers program. Though he typically speaks to students in Washington state, this week Matt took his safety message and his personal story to the factory staff of the Nestle Waters North America facility in Indiana.

"I began searching nation-wide for a seriously injured young worker who could speak to us and Matt's story on the Washington state's L & I website was the only thing I found," said Ian T. McCloskey, Operations Manager, Nestle Waters, Indianapolis Factory. "I'm really looking forward to his presentation and the impact it will have on our young workers here."

Matt currently works as a papermaker for Longview Fibre, and is part of their safety program. Though not an L&I employee, he is the main speaker in L&I's teen safety program. His easy demeanor and bionic arm allows him to connect with his young audiences better than any PowerPoint presentation.

Now 33, Matt was 21 when he lost his left arm to an unguarded conveyer drive chain at a paper mill. He now travels across the state for L&I, relating his story to young people in schools and workplaces in order to raise workplace safety awareness for young workers so what happened to him won't happen to them.

"It's difficult to re-live the accident every time I make a presentation," Pomerinke said. "But it's worth it if it saves one young worker from having a traumatic, life-changing workplace incident."

Nestle Waters' Indiana facility is a subsidiary of Nestle S.A., based in Switzerland. The USA plant bottles Perrier, Poland Springs, Arrowhead, and Calistoga among other brands. The company is covering all the costs of Pomerinke's travel to their facility.

Currently, L&I's Injured Young Worker Speakers program reaches 45 schools and business a year in Washington.

For more information about the program, visit www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/TeenWorkers/SpeakersProgram/.

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For media information: Xenofon Moniodis, L&I, 360-902-6458.

Broadcast version: The Department of Labor & Industries' Injured Young Worker Speakers program is travelling to Indiana, thanks to Nestle Waters' Indiana facility. The international bottling company is paying to bring speaker Matt Pomerinke to their factory to deliver his message of safety for young workers. Matt was 21 when he lost his left arm to an unguarded conveyer drive chain at a paper mill a decade ago. Matt still works at a paper mill, but he also is the main speaker in L&I's efforts to promote safety among young workers. For more information, visit www dot lni dot wa dot gov and search for 'teen workers.' .

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