Second chance


Second chance

Sometimes all it takes is a moment, an unfortunate moment, and the world turns upside down. It will never be the same again. For shift master of hatch gnealers, František Kiráľ, one ordinary bike ride in June four years ago and the subsequent ugly fall meant the beginning of a completely different life. A serious injury with a spinal cord injury took its toll. But he did not give in, as is often the case with other disabled people. His story is full of determination, willpower, resilience and also the understanding and helpfulness of the employer, who gave him a second chance in terms of working career in the factory.

"After half a year in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, I got home treatment. It was tough, especially those first few months. My whole life has changed. Everything was new to me, everything had to get used to. One immediately put together what was likely to happen next. I didn't even count on going back to work. After all, the metallurgical industry and such an injury do not go together.  I already agreed that if a miracle didn't happen and I got back on my feet, I would have to end up in the factory. That was my heart. But at that point, I hadn't really addressed it yet. I had to handle other things at that time to be able to function at all. The trade union also helped me a lot at that time. After a year of maródka, however, I had to face the situation I found myself in. And start dealing with the working relationship. And what's next."

The miracle did not happen, František Kiráľ did not stand on his feet. But something happened that he didn't even hope for anymore. "Such a mini miracle for me. In several meetings and negotiations with the employer, it was said that it is not completely lost on me in terms of work, that something could be done about it. When we started to deal with what and how to do next, the triangle – Human Resources, Sheltered Operation and especially the section of the General Manager for Purchasing Martina Kaprálová, who was convinced that it could be done and took a positive and accommodating approach to eliminating my health restrictions in the performance of work, fully functioned. I got an offer to get a job on Shopping."

At the very beginning, it was necessary to solve basic things - access by car, parking space with overlap due to possible adverse weather conditions, then building a ramp to the main entrance. All this succeeded. This feat of the Košice steel plant in the form of building barrier-free access is one of the examples of diversity and inclusion that it advocates. It will certainly be appreciated by all handicapped people who need to get to the main administrative building for various reasons.

"Gradually, more and more things emerged that required a solution.  Previously, we had offices one floor lower, where the competent people took care of adjusting parts of the premises, but coincidentally, I came here at a time when the 7th floor was about to be renovated, so all my requirements were incorporated into the plan. I am very grateful for this and for the proactive approach of general manager Martina Kaprálová. I have my comfort here now."

The sanitary facility was also adapted to František Kiráľ's health disability, the entrance door to the department opens automatically. A number of other little things also make his job easier, including adjusting the height of the workbench, since it was not possible to slide the wheelchair under some.

"There's a lot that needed to be done, but they met me in everything. Also when it comes to setting other working hours," says František Kiráľ. "I went into the unknown and they did too, but they weren't afraid of it.  I believe that now this is bearing fruit both for me and for the employer. I blossom on their helpfulness and appreciate it very much. All the more so because I meet a community of disabled people. Whether in social groups or in sports activities. And not only in Košice, but also in Slovakia and abroad.  That's why I know how to compare. Let me be honest - such an employer's approach is a rarity in Slovakia and a very good example of what employing disabled people in our country should look like. It would benefit the whole society," says František Kiráľ, who today holds the position of sales officer for the transport of strategic raw materials, in charge of planning, monitoring and evaluating the supply of strategic raw materials, including daily operations.  "I am grateful to my employer – U. S. Steel Košice for providing and creating a beautiful, customized, accessible, barrier-free and, most importantly, safe working environment."

František Kiráľ did not give up even with school. Last year, he completed his external studies at the Faculty of Materials, Metallurgy and Recycling of the Technical University in Košice with a red diploma. And shortly after the accident, he almost said goodbye to the school he attended for two years. In the end, he brought it to a successful conclusion.

He also has great support from his colleagues. "I have a great relationship with them, I have found an excellent team here. Since now I have to use other skills and knowledge that I acquired before in my work, they helped me a lot and still help. They are a great inspiration for me, but I can also rely on them in everything else. They are a great support to me."

Important contacts

USSK Emergency numbers:
15, 3 2222, 3 2015, +421 55 673 2222

Regional Service Desk:
3 4400, +421 55 673 4400

Employee Center:
3 3300, +421 673 3300

Ethics Line:
+421 55 684 2289

Šaca Hospital:
+421 55 7234 111, +421 55 7234 333

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