Woody’s Book

by James Wood

A powerful no bullshit account of how a workplace incident changed James’ life. ’12 Reasons NOT to get hurt at work’ is written in a way that most workers will relate to and without any spin or jargon.

Based on the most common questions and discussion points from over 25 years of sharing his story at workplaces this short book is a must read for all workers and employers.

Like all your employees and contractors to have a copy too?

Chat to us, we can arrange to have your logo or branding printed on the book and if you would like to provide a statement or key message we can incorporate that in the book.

I wrote this short book to answer some of the questions I get asked when I share my story at workplaces.

Some answers may come across as a little crude and I do swear, so I apologise in advance if you are offended. But f..k it… Getting hurt at work sucks and I’m not going to sugar coat it!

When I was in my early twenties, I f..ked up!

I made some wrong CHOICES and I’ve been in a wheelchair ever since. Woody

Note: Woody has released 2 versions of his short book. One without swearing to keep the HR people happy and the other is written in the way that he and many others talk. You can choose which version will suit your people best.






Book Reviews


Your last line of defence is yourself. Use this book to keep sharp about what’s out to get you because it’s no joke. What Woody also teaches you is that other people suffer as well, with their lives upended. His list of 12 is not all there is but should help to make you challenge what you do, especially when you are like Woody that day, just trying to do a good job.

There is one group I’d add to the list of people who should read this book and that is managers and executives. They may think this happens to other people, that they should have looked more carefully, but accidents almost always have someone senior who has the power to make things safer. One very senior executive I know is still, after 30 years, racked with guilt that he could have done better and has used that to make things better.

Woody is a force of nature, learn from him so you don’t have to learn yourself.

Prof Patrick Hudson
Hudson Global Consultancy

Love this book, easy to read, easy to take in. I’ve started taking it to toolbox talks and having a read with the boys, and while having James attend would be best, the book gives them all something to think about before they head to site.

Rebecca O'Meley
Maxibor Australia Pty Ltd

A very insightful read on WHY safety is so important. 12 reasons NOT to get Hurt at Work tells a story of workplace injury and the impact on one’s physical and mental health. James brilliantly reflects on his accident and his life with clarity and candor. 

Read it: it will change the way you see workplace safety. 

Mary Appleby
Human Resources Executive - MHRM CAHRI

“Woody’s book is brutal. It reflects the seriousness of the incident that changed James’ life and those around him but is not always a “serious book”. Any book like this needs levity.

The book serves its purpose as an honest response to many of the questions that James is asked every time he speaks to workers and managers. The choice of language reflects James’ voice but also the voices of his readers and his audiences.

This book is nothing like a glossy self-help about coping with trauma. It reflects the reality faced by James and hundreds of other people who are seriously injured at work. The clear, but never simple, lesson is ‘Don’t hurt yourself’.

Kevin Jones

James shares his powerful story in this short book in a way where he nudges readers to consider their behaviours to avoid his fate.

More than 20 years ago I heard James tell his story to a room full of coal miners ready to start a shift at one of Australia’s largest coal mines. Back then Woody captivated his audience with his honesty, openness and directness. He cut though to everyone in a way the management never could, the room was hooked from the moment he started speaking. This book is the same, it is a quick read, but you want to go cover to cover without stopping. It is insightful and makes you think about what might happen to you and others around you if you hurt yourself at work and it is a strong incentive not to do so.

This is a great read for anyone and provides powerful incentives to stay safe and avoid harm. Great job James.

Keith Downham
Company Director and Former Mine Manager

I have heard James speak and that certainly gets you thinking about things that we take for granted as able bodied people in today’s society, but the book goes deeper than the talks and really makes appreciate what you have and what you need to do to protect it.

I know we all get caught up with our busy lives and function on “autopilot” some days. This book makes you realise that “autopilot” could cost you everything you take for granted in life.

Wendy Kefford
Guideline ACT Pty Ltd

When I read Woody’s story, I felt like I was reading a biography of my own life. Every chapter brought back to me horrible memories of almost the exact experiences I went through after my own workplace accident many years ago. Physical and emotional memories of pain, loss, anger, frustration, hopelessness, bitterness, depression etc etc.

Sadly, I wish these were all just memories, but they’re not, they’re still everyday emotions I am living with right now. Thirty-five years after the event.

I was 19 and had just started an amazing career with the Australian Army, when I made a choice to get in my car and drive it 12 hours from a training course back to my base, whilst suffering the effects of extreme fatigue. I fell asleep, crashed the car, and destroyed every future life dream I had. I have spent every second from that day living with quadriplegia.

This story is a reflection into how difficult I have made my life, just because I made that one stupid decision in a rushed moment in time. Life is all about choices, and as humans, we’re not expected to get them all correct the first time. Mistakes are often how we learn. But making a potential life-changing mistake at work because you made the wrong choice, when you already know that there is a correct way of doing things, is not a choice you want to get wrong the first time. Trust me, I have lived it, trust Woody, he has lived it, trust both of us, it’s just not worth it.

If this booklet doesn’t make YOU stop and think twice about the choices YOU can make when real risk is at hand, then I don’t know what will.

Greg Smith
OAM - 5 Time Paralympian and Woody’s good mate