MEN cried when the explosives expert who freed Beaconsfield miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb from their "underground tomb" shared his compelling story at Lismore Workers Club yesterday.
Darren Flanagan told a room of workers and business owners of the extreme pressure he endured for 29 hours straight as he set off 65 explosions that came within 300mm of Russell and Webb.
The world-first operation using explosives never designed to be used near human beings was a last resort in order to free the pair from their desperate position 925m underground following a mine collapse in April 2006.
Mr Flanagan said he did not fully realise the impact of the pressure he had endured until after he returned home to Nowra when he suffered bouts of depression and post-traumatic stress.
"I'd be crying in the shower trying to hide it from my wife and kids," he said.
"There wasn't a single person who went to Beaconsfield who didn't come back a different person. I don't care what you were doing."
Mr Flanagan now uses that life-changing experience as a platform to raise the profile of the importance of workplace safety and mental health issues which affect one in four Australian men.
"We (men) need to stop pretending that we're bullet-proof and that we can't be hurt by things that happen to us in work and life," he said.
The Northern Rivers Business Enterprise Centre sponsored the talk, which drew more than 90 people, to draw attention to Workcover rules that came into effect this year.
A series of free Workcover training events will be staged in June.
For more information visit norbec.com.au.