This is a bricklayer's accident report that was printed in the
newsletter of the British equivalent of the Workers' Compensation
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 which when weighed later
were found to weigh 240 lbs. 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 240 lbs of
bricks. You will note on the accident reporting form that my weight is
135 lbs. 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 the broken collarbone, as listed
in Section 3, accident reporting 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 50 lbs. I refer you again
to my weight. 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 two fractured ankles, broken
tooth and severe lacerations of 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, 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.
And I lay there watching the empty barrel begin its journey back onto me.