This is a bricklayer's accident report that was printed in the newsletter
of the English equivalent of the Workers' Compensation Board.
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.