It’s been nearly a decade since a tragic accident left an Edmonton man with severe burns to 90 per cent of his body. Spencer Beach almost died, but looking back now, Beach says he wouldn’t change a thing.

Beach says he’s been to hell and back, after a workplace accident almost killed him in 2003.

He was removing flooring using what he calls a highly-flammable chemical, when it ignited.

“In less than 20 seconds I had burned 90 per cent of my body with third and fourth-degree burns,” Beach said.

“I was given a five per cent chance to live.”

Beach spent more than a year in hospital, and admits he struggled with suicidal thoughts, depression and anger, but says going through all of those emotions helped him become the man he is today.

“Anger chewed me out and spit me out in the hospital,” Beach said.

“I had to go through that anger but what I found was that once I tapped into it, once I understood why it was happening to me, and it was in me and it was trying to take over my life, I was able to tap into that and turn it around and use it as something to motivate me to get to where I am today.”

Beach began speaking to groups about workplace safety, which has led to a successful career where he puts on more than 100 safety and motivational presentations each year.

“I’ve turned such a horrible event into helping so many people,” he said.

“I do know I’ve made a difference.”

Beach says he receives Facebook messages, emails, and has people come up to him after presentations to talk about what his words meant to them.

He recently spoke to a group of students at NAIT, and left many in the crowd with a new outlook on life.

“We actually think he should be one of our teachers because we learned so much from him,” said student Sarah Boire.

“I’m going to make sure everything is in place for my own safety so I can see my family when I get done the job for the day,” said student Michael Laveck.

Beach recently released a DVD, aimed at helping organizations build on their safety programs. He also has a book called In Case of Fire, which details his accident and recovery.

Looking back, Beach says it wasn't the burns that hurt the most.

He says the biggest pain was seeing how the accident affected his friends and family.

“Knowing that it changed my family’s life, seeing my family go through depression, seeing my friends leave me because they can’t deal with it, they can’t see me like this and know who I used to be, just the pain I caused everybody else, that was the hardest pain,” he said.

But Beach doesn’t regret the accident.

“I’ve gone through hell and back but I wouldn’t change what happened to me,” he said.

“It took, let’s be honest, 10 years to get that perspective but really.”

Beach is hosting event in April to mark the 10-year anniversary of the accident.

Click here for more information and how to purchase tickets.

With files from Carmen Leibel