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Jobsite Injuries

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  • Jobsite Injuries

    On another thread Rick mentioned he suffered a burn today while soldering. After seeing the photo of his fingers I have to tell you it is sure easy to under estimate the dangers we have on the jobsite. We work with extreme pressures, temperatures, heights, depths and many other dangers. I thought I would share my most recent accident which has side lined me for the last 16-months and counting.

    My daughter bought a new to her home which needed a repipe amongst other things. My daughter and her husband are young and the only way for them to purchase a nice two story home in Santa Clarita is to do it with a lot of sweat equity.

    Once they bought the home they found out the previous owner had added a second layer of drywall on the ceiling to hide all of the water stains from leaking pipes. The entire first floor ceiling came out and I went by to layout where he needed to drill for the new pipes.

    After the holes were drilled and materials delivered I stopped by one night to check it out. I showed him what additional work he needed to do and I instructed him to start setting the pipes into the joist space. While there I happened to notice my son-in-law had a brand new flimsy as heck fiberglass A-Frame ladder he had just bought from Home Depot.

    I am big into ladder safety and have always used the 300 pound rated Little Giant ladders. Many a times I’ve leaned off the side of a Little Giant to saw cut a wall A/C though stucco with a 15-amp Milwaukee saw and not worried about any ladder flex. As such I told my son-in-law to throw away his new ladder and go get a couple of my Little Giant ladders to work with. I explained to him how easy it would be to get hurt on a ladder which could flex.

    Moving a month ahead I went back to check on the job and my son-in-law had not gotten much done and what he had done was off a little. I decided I would help him out a little by relocating some of the pipes he had started with. The pipes were not soldered but were held in place with Acusto-Plumb isolators. I looked around and the only ladder at the hose was his Home Depot ladder.

    I climbed a few steps up on the ladder and gave a tug on the pipe. As the pipe was still tightly held by the isolator it would not come out. I gave a bigger tug and the pipe broke loose just as I heard the ladder legs shift. As I was still holding the pipe my legs swung into the ladder on my way to the ground.

    As I lay on the ground I assessed what I thought was wrong with me. It appeared I may have popped my knee out of joint so I spent the next hour trying to get off the ground so my daughter could drive me to the hospital. After an hour I gave up and let her call the ambulance.

    As it turned out I broke my tibia in two places, my fibula in one, crushed my knee plateau, shattered my shoulder and broke my clavicle all on the right side. The first few surgeons told me there was not enough to fix. Finally my friend who happened to be an Orthopedic Surgeon with privileges at the hospital heard about it and came by. He told me he could fix it but I would need a bunch of surgeries over the next 15-years.

    The initial surgery went better than anyone could have hoped. I ended up with two metal plates and a half-a-dozen 3” screws holding my leg together. I spent 6-months in a wheel chair, two months on crutches and another month with a cane to end up with a leg which was twisted and bent. Now after 5-months of dragging a dead leg behind me I finally had my knee replaced and leg straightened out last week. My buddy the surgeon says he thinks this time all will be great. I’m dragging my butt around with a walker but I’ve been told in 16-weeks I should be at 100%.

    The point of my story is the accident was such a simple mistake on a ladder which I had already warned another about how dangerous it could be. The older we get the harder it is for our bodies to heal. If I was still working in the field, this would have been a career ending accident. I am fortunate I have other things I can do work wise but it has ended almost all of my other activities.


    [ 10-21-2005, 02:27 AM: Message edited by: ToUtahNow ]
    "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

    I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

  • #2
    WOW, thanks for sharing that, glad to hear you are on your way to a full recovery. Reminds me of an accident my uncle had. He has had many jobs and is well aware of safe climbing practices but when at home we all tend to be a bit less careful. He needed to change the exterior garage light and instead of getting the ladder he just grabbed the chair that was 3 feet closer. Well the chair wobbled and he jumped off, since it was summer and at home no shoes either, smashed his heel bone and was on crutches for months.
    When I bought my first home in 92 one of my first purchases was a Type 1A JAWS ladder (stores folded at 6' and will make a 10' step or 22' straight ladder), many years later I added a yellow fiberglass featherlite (1A). I can't count the number of times I have heard 'why would you waste so much money on a ladder' to which I reply 'next trip up to the roof try my ladder' several of my friends now own 1A's. I can't stand those cheap ladders and if I know I am going some where that requires climbing my ladder goes with me.


    • #3
      Safety has got to be the most important factor we consider when doing a job. Before last week i did not own a big ladder, just a four foot for inside residential repairs and such. Fiberglass 1A rating Husky brand from HD. It's been a great ladder. I needed a 12' a frame ladder for a job, so i figured i'd go rent one. if one wasn't available to rent, i was just going to buy one. I went to the local HD and looked at the rentals. I was SHOCKED. Two light guage light duty aluminum that had 175 lb rating. I weigh 200! So that wasn't going to work. I picked up a 12' Husky 1A fiberglass and its great. It was twice as much as an aluminum one, but i don't feel like getting killed or mangled because i was too cheap to buy a good ladder. Other than the occasional dripping solder on my arm, I have been fortunate enough to not incurr any jobsite injuries.


      • #4
        well i guess mark wins for battle wounds. interesting how things happen at home, while a jobsite is typically more dangerous.

        12 years ago i was boring a 5'' hole underground to go 25' from my house to garage. i didn't want to scar my pool deck. using a hole hog with a water atachment and butterfly bit assy. i started with a 2'' pilot hole. after making it to the garage i swapped bits to the 5'' and started to ream out the hole. as the bit was spinning in low gear i pushed it too far towards the garage and hit the concrete footing. the 3' handle on the drill, (3/4'' steel pipe) with no rubber grip. came around in slow motion right into the spot where my nose meets my eye. as i put my hand up to my head, it turned red. my buddie had just left a minute earlier. i ran out front to catch him to drive me to the hospital.

        so the moral of this story is trying to save a scar on my concrete, i created a scar om my face.

        amazing how many dangers we are exposed to at the jobsite, only to get injured on a home project.


        ps. the photo of my 2 fingers that mark mentioned at the start of this post look worse than they feel. hopefully a little lesson to learn. i had just removed my gloves since they got roofing tar on them. too lazy to go down 7 floors to get clean gloves, i continued to solder the 2'' fittings on a storage tank. reaching behind the tank while soldering i turned the torch towards my fingers as i worked. needless to say they blistered as fast as i could move. i finished the project and then came home and had to explain to my crying wife why she was the last to learn of it.

        wear your safety gear. gloves and glasses. explaining to the wife is worse than the burn, i think?



        • #5
          I have always considered my most important job as a foreman to be saftey. I know, there are those on this forum who have put me down for not being a contractor, but I like my job. I like to think that I have made the lives of working guys better by being a saftey *****. I have pushed and pushed for that, even thrown guys off my job because of it, but when all is said, they are healthier for it.

          There is no project worth the health and saftey of your crew. I also have seen injuries, including death, on jobsites. I have a much better understanding of what causes those injuries than California OSHA. Which is why I have my own saftey program. Yea, I do the OSHA thing for legal reasons, but I do my own thing for saftey.

          If you guys whan to compare scares, so be it. I find the topic horrific, because I have seen death and serious injuries beyond surgery.

          This topic should be about PREVENTING INJURIES, not a replay of the famous seen in "Jaws".
          the dog


          • #6
            Saftey is indeed important. I have more than a few injuries I could write about, most were at least partly my fault due to complacency. A few highly detailed examples of injuries might highlight to some of the younger readers why safety is not just for wussies.

            Rick and Utah have shown us that injurys are easily obtained by split second decisions that we think don't matter "just this once". Lets use the descriptions of their injuries to showcase the need for safety.

            My pet peeves for saftey problems are the proper or improper trenching and shoring methods and confined space entry methods used by almost every contractor in the country. Many of the guys who scream safety the loudest often toss it straight out the window when deadlines begin to loom near.

            Their excuses usually begin with, "Oh you'll only be down there for three minutes". Or "that ground looks stable to me and I've been doing this for years". Hundreds of people are killed every year in this country due to excavation collapse and many more seriously injured. Often these accidents occur near the completion of the project at hand.

            And why anyone would allow themselves to be in a confined space for hours at a time while using harsh solvents without adequate ventilation is truly a mystery. If the migraine headaches and dizzyness doesn't tell you something then something is really wrong.

            Whether you have been on the job for one day or for thirty years never let anyone make you go into a deep trench that is not adequately shored by a trained individual unless the sides have been tapered back and the spoils moved at least 2 feet from the side of the ditch or a portable trench box is in place. Demand an exit ladder and refuse entry if you are denied one. Be sure there is a spotter to watch the trench sides for signs of immenent collapse. That spotter is not there to be a runner, if he is back at the truck retrieving a tool he can't see the split that is rapidly developing on your blind side.

            And when it comes to entering a space that has been sealed for any period of time, only a fool or an untrained novice would enter without first having the atmosphere in the space to be entered properly "sniffed" with equipment that is certified as "working properly".

            Like dog I have witnessed death and grievious injuries on jobsites. It is impossible to adequately explain what this does to someone.

            To you younger guys, You are only a wussie if you are not man enough to stand up for your own safety. If you enjoy music or the laughter of children use your earplugs now while the noise still bothers you. When you get used to the noise thats because you are now losing your hearing and it doesnt come back.
            Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.


            • #7
              i can,t believe i'm reading this today! it,s been 30 years since i rode a ladder to the ground. used the customers cheapo instead of going to my van. i hung from the gutter and dropped 6 ft to the ground. very lucky, no damage.

              here,s another hazard SUN after 7 weeks skin cancer is back aggresively 20 more stitches in same place ,same arm. i'm in good hands. one word to you young guys SUN BLOCK AND HATS. BE WELL TOOL
              I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .


              • #8

                Sorry to read of your ailment. Best wishes.

                Another example of experience. Hopefully at least one young pup will take some of this to heed.
                Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.


                • #9

                  I'm sorry to hear about your skin cancer but thank you for bringing it up. Sun Block was something I never would have thought of using in the day. Now my buddy who is a grower/broker is going through re-occurring (after 15-years) skin cancer. The issues which takes so many years to manifest are so often ignored.


                  [ 10-22-2005, 11:48 AM: Message edited by: ToUtahNow ]
                  "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                  I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!


                  • #10
                    thank you both. have no idea if they got it all,time will tell. no regrets ,it,s been one hell of a good ride!
                    I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .


                    • #11
                      I was reading in this months PM Magazine about a confined space accident aboard a Royal Carribean ship. It seems three crew men were replacing some waste lines on the sewage system of the ship.

                      Apparently the crew man spilled around 5-gallons of sewage and an unknown amount of sewer gas. The Fire Department estimated the three crewman expired within the first 30-seconds of the spill. All three crew members were foreign nationals and employees of the cruise line.

                      "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                      I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!


                      • #12
                        Were i work they are so saftey oreinted we have a saftey walk every monday and a saftey meeting later durring lunch. Yet when the big wigs get there i don't see them wear hard hats or saftey vests. But then I quess a person can be so important they don't need a hard hat or saftey vest? We can't listen to music or have cellphones, but they can?

                        One day i was driving a fork lift to pick up some conduit, I saw a groupe of five "important" people talking in a circle one broke of from the group and was talking on his CELLPHONE! This forklift i was driving was comparable in size to a crew-cab truck yet they can't hear or see me coming. so I stop and honk 3 times, on the third honk someone noticed me and got the others to move. After my path was clear i drove through, while passing i saw one of them looking at me as he tugged on his vest as if to imply i had not seen them.

                        There is a saftey commisionor that has the same phisosify as "Tim Taylor/Allen" in home improvment. he is why we can't have cellphones. Lesson learned, "IF YOU TALK AN A CELLPHONE DO SO AWAY FROM A BUSY AREA OR HAZZARDOUS LOCATION" I still carry mine because only two people call me, my Wife and my boss! And NO THEY ARE NOT THE SAME PERSON!

                        [ 10-25-2005, 01:18 AM: Message edited by: Polar Sparky 1224 ]
                        "Diplomacy is saying nice dodging until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
                        "If a Monkey can do your job, are you in the right profession?


                        • #13
                          Thanks for posting these safety reminders. It's strange how I take more precautions while working a job than when I'm at home. I used a wheel barrow that was right next to me to gain the extra couple of feet I needed. The ladder was at the back of the house. I'll call that pure stupidity on my part rather than laziness.

                          I have to start wearing my safety glasses and dust mask religiously again. I was pretty good at doing that for a long while. Other guys on the job sites would make their comments and stuff. It didn't bother me one bit. I was especially glad I was wearing my glasses when a framer split a chunk of 2x4 and it hit me square between the glasses. Didn't hurt at all, just scared the crap out of me.


                          • #14
                            You can fill a book with saftey rules but these are the most important in my book, because I've seen their disregard result in the most injuries:

                            1) Use proper equipment for elevated working. A 2" x 4" strung between a fire block and a ladder is not proper scaffoling. Wheel barrows and buckets are not ladders.

                            If you need to get the right equipment to the jobsite, so be it. Don't let the schedule drive the saftey program.

                            2) Do not remove the saftey features from power tools. They were installed for a reason. If you can't use the tool to perform the task without removing the guard, you have the wrong piece of equipment.

                            3) Wear saftey glasses when using power tools.

                            4) Be aware of your surroundings. Don't be tunnel visioned to your work, remember there are other trades working right along side of you. Some of these trades may not be concerned with your saftey.

                            5) When working overhead make sure the area below is clear of other workers. Tape the area off if necessary.

                            6) Use proper shoring.

                            8) Wear gloves when working with or around sharp or hot objects (this is the Plumber Rick Rule).

                            9)Clean up oil and liquid spills from the work area floor.

                            10) DO NOT ALLOW SCHEDULES TO COMPRIMISE SAFTEY. If you work for a "Just Get It Done" type of company quit, report them to OSHA, and move on.

                            I personally have seen all of the above result in serious injury.

                            the dog
                            the dog


                            • #15

                              If all foremen worked like you we would not need OSHA.

                              "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                              I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!