bricklayer's accident report
This is a bricklayer's accident report, which was allegedly printed in the newsletter of the Australian equivalent of the Workers' Compensation Board. It is reputedly ‘based on a true story’.
I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block 3 of the accident reporting form. I put ‘poor planning’ as the cause of my accident. You asked for a fuller explanation and I trust the following details will be sufficient.
I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-story building. When I completed my work, I found I had some bricks left over that, when weighed later, were found to be in excess of 250 kg. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley, which was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.
Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 250 kg of bricks. You will note in Block 11 of the accident report form that I weigh 70 kg.
Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel, which was now proceeding downward at an equally impressive speed. This explains the fractured skull, minor abrasions and broken collarbone, as listed in Section 3 of the accident report form.
Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley, which I mentioned in Paragraph 2 of this correspondence. Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of the excruciating pain I was now beginning to experience. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel.
Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed approximately 20 kg. I refer you again to my weight, 70 kg. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the fractured ankles, broken tooth and severe lacerations to my legs and lower body.
Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.
I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel six stories above me, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope. I lay there watching the empty barrel begin its journey back down onto me. This explains the two broken legs.
I hope this answers your enquiry.