This is a busy time of year for agencies dealing with workplace safety.

May Day rallies are planned for the Windsor-Essex region and one Amherstburg man is speaking about his own personal tragedy in the hopes of preventing more deaths.

On Nov. 14, 2000, a painting crew working under the Ambassador Bridge plunged into the frigid Detroit River. The scaffolding they were working on collapsed and 28-year-old Jamie Barker did not survive.

“He was afraid of heights and couldn't swim,” says Joshua Rene, Barker’s son. “He was up there because the money was good and Christmas was coming and there were kids.”

One of those kids is Rene. He was just 10 years old when his dad died.

“He was like a big kid,” says Rene. “My dad pulled up in his car, put down window a little bit and sprayed us.”

Rene says it has been a tough life, living without a father and even more difficult was grieving his loss in public.

“I remember the funeral, just a wall of cameras and questions,” says Rene.

Rene says he tried to hide from the glare of media attention until Jan. 11, 2012, when tragedy struck another bridge worker Kent Morton.

“He was the same age as my dad. Enough is enough,” says Rene.

Rene has now joined a group called Threads of Life. He speaks to groups about workplace safety and coaches grieving families.

“It’s hard but I have to try to save at least one life,” says Rene.

Now a father himself, Rene is acutely aware of how quickly life can change. He says there's one simple message he wants people to hear.

“Ask questions. Be aware at work. Know you have rights,” he says. “Don't ever do something you feel is unsafe.”

Sunday is the workers’ Day of Mourning ceremony in Coventry Gardens at the injured workers monument.