Construction Site Horrors
I have two in mind and I might remember more later. So any of you that have worked on a large construction site please share.
I have worked on some heavy construction sites, not many, most of the sites I've been on were housing tracts. There are different kinds but I won't go into that. Most housing tracks as they are being framed (wood sticks go up and plywood over the roof) have a fork lift of some kind, here in CA the most common was the Pettibone, which is the manufacturers name and they make other equipment, the fork lifts in the oil patch, some are Pettibones. Pettibones that we use are open-wheeled and the front and back wheels can steer independently so they can turn tight and crab. The lifting part is a kind of carriage contraption that makes it so you can move the load in and out. I'll try and find a picture, they are trippy.
So they use the machine to move lumber around and it can reach the second floor of a house, it might get tough on some apartments. So on the job there is usually a cut off saw set up to cut blocks, studs, headers and so on.
Early in my career I worked for Jim Stallard Framing Company, with Roger the roof cutter. I'd build horses and Leroy would bring rafter material and set them on the horses on his Pettibone. Often I'd have to run after Leroy (I remembered) to bring us more material or move it. Leroy was a busy guy, he was also the Foreman on the job.
Doug Stallard who was running the cut off saw needed something from Leroy, so Doug ran across the pad he was set up on and tried to jump onto the step between the wheels of the Pettibone as it was going 15mph. He did not make the step and Leroy ran right over his chest. I did not see it happen, I saw the aftermath. I really shook me up, I'd never seen someone die in front of me. Someone I knew.
This same job had an older carpenter bury his skilsaw into his upper leg.
This was back in 1971 in Westlake, CA. It was a hot day, the pavement was hot.
Poor Leroy disappeared for a week, Jim Stallard went looking for him. We worked the next day.
Last edited by lowfiron; 09-25-2009 at 04:21 PM.
I know the first one was kind of gruesome. I kind of popped into my head when I was thinking of three other forklift disasters. I had not thought about it in a long time. I was friends with Greg Stallard at that time and it hit him pretty bad. Anyway;
In So Cal they were building 30 to 100 houses at a time in the 80s. Usually they did not pave the streets or do curb and gutter only the house pads were at grade. At this time the lumber yard might cut headers cripples and studs and bundle the plate, beams, ceiling or floor joist and the rafter load. There was a number of ways to handle lumber and there was roof trusses too. So the old pettibone with the rack system could be used to some point but you usually had a forklift with a retracting- extending boom. Pettibone had one, Koehring had a better one and the best was originally called a Loed and then Gradall bought them. The Koering and Pettibone had front and back steering wheels, Koerings was better. Gradall's rear wheels were in the very back and you could set the front brake and the lift would spin on the front wheels, it would not crab but I could get it in places I could not get a Koehring or Pettibone.
I was helping a friend run a job for Joe Ruffner in Port Hueneme, town houses. We have a laborer, apprentice and part time lift driver, he was from Texas and had a great drawl. He educated me the difference between a cap and a hat, hats have a brim all the way around and caps have bills. Serious issue for him. So he would drive the lift and pick up the unused lumber and move it up to where it would be used. This place had paving so there were no ruts or holes the forklift had to go over unless it needed to go off the road. The town houses were in rows attached side to side then there would be another row behind that row so back to back rows of townhouses. Between the backs of the town houses there was a swale or double slope, the town houses were at different elevations- 3 or 4 ft different.
The apprentice was not the full time lift driver, he usually stayed on the paving. Well one day he had to fetch some kind of lumber between the backs of some condos and there was the swale. You can tilt the carriage of there lifts if one side is higher than another and the apprentice had done that he went in and picked up the lumber and turned around to come back out forgetting he was tilted over pretty far when he went in. I was standing right there as the Koehring started going, of course what seemed very slowly. The apprentice was going out the high side, if it went the other direction there was no getting out the high side. The lift was not extended but the boom was almost straight up as it came to rest on a slab breaking a hole in it, it shattered a wall that was parallel to the boom. The poor kid ran to the where the plywood was stock piled and wedged himself between two stacks and was crying. Anyone would have been shaken up by that.
I'm not sure who let him start driving the lift but I don't think he had much experience on any lift and he didn't get much instruction for this lift and it's a dangerous lift. When it's extended and it has the feet out and a big load, it could start oscillating for some reason and I've seen that. Short forklifts can loose material like plywood and it shoots out like a deck of cards. Lucky I've never seen anybody hit by that. Driving a forklift that has a boom and tilt needs someone who could operate a crane, concentration and calm.
Koehring doesn't make a forklift anymore as far as I can tell, They make cranes.
Gradall, here's a link and this forklift hasn't changed much in 25-30 yrs.
Thanks for sharing again, low. Kinda tough to talk about this stuff sometimes, but VERY important for others to read about, in my opinion.
Have a good one bud,
Back in the eighties again. I was running a pickup crew, about 6 guys. I can't remember who gave me the new guy. He told me he was a carpenter but there were a few things that didn't make sense. He didn't have all of the hand tools he needed, he had a cloth apron style nail-tool holder- very unusual for a framing carpenter, and a small hammer 16oz. This job was a non union job, so they could hire any old person off the street, I did get the 'see what he can do' order. I did not stand around and watch the guys every minute, they would have a problem or needed something to do, they came to me.
I had the new guy work with me so I could keep an eye on him and give him some 'training'. When you're doing framing pickup you're cutting blocks, wedges, strong backs, rippings and generally fixing things before drywall. In fact the drywall is usually loaded and you can use the pile for a horse or cutting table. This guy seemed to know how to use a skilsaw so of course he had to use mine.
After a short period of time he exclaimed, 'wow, you really know how to use that saw!' I probably said, 'yeah, it's my living', well in my hurry or focus on my work I did not catch the underlying meaning of that exclamation. So just before lunch, I heard my saw bind and this poor guy screamed. He was holding his left hand and there was blood starting to flow. I took my tee shirt, grabbed his hands, it looked like he took off two fingers. I rapped his hand up and took him to my truck.
Tim, the foreman, did not want to take him to the hospital. So I took him, it wasn't very far and I brought a kid to hold on to him if he freaked. On the way there, like a lot of wounded do, he told me he played the piano and that he played at a Hotel bar in the evenings.
So, the baby finger was pretty much gone and the next finger was 'degloved'.
I learned a valuable lesson, if you're running a crew or even on your own and someone gives you a new 'carpenter', you owe it to him and yourself to give him the third degree and watch him (her) drive a nail and have him show you how to use a saw, don't plug it in either.
Again, about the Union, the Carpenters Union has an apprenticeship program. The first couple of classes (semesters) they teach you about tools and safety. We were laughing at the time and thought it was useless but I learned the difference out on the tracts. My provincial view is that So Cal (No Cal too) had the best framing carpenters anywhere, production framing.
Getting back to the issue at hand (sic), the union's training and sending or hiring through the hall I'm sure prevented numerous accidents.
I was hanging some rock in a corridor in a high rise in Honolulu when I noticed some movement to the side of me. I look over and seen this guy covered with blood. Like a bucket of blood was dumped over his head, dude was soaked. He was a bit wobbly and looked to be in shock I guess so I guided him to the buck hoist and hit the emergency button. Few moments later he was out of sight..
We are trying to figure out what happened to the guy and traced his blood trail back to the scene of the accident. Looked like he was standing on the bathtub while framing the ceilings with metal studs. He had all his studs cut and stood up against the wall and slipped cutting himself across the forehead. The bathroom smelled like blood from the pools of it on the floor.
Worst thing was following his blood trail as dude had walked over to where the windows were supposed to be and actually dripped blood on the outside of the building, at the 27th floor.
Without a doubt though this was the bloodiest accident scene I've ever seen..
Those stories are horrible guys. Deaths by falling off a roof is definitely a bad one as well. No need for specifics of that, right? Sad....
It's not good Sal, but it happens. Far too often.
A good buddy of mine, my daughters' God Father infact, received permanent brain damage from a fall at a construction sight.
The builder had constructed the scaffold, he used it and it collapsed underneath him. He fell onto a brick wall. He lost a finger and suffered a fractured skull. He also lost a fair part of his memory and vision. This happened maybe 8 years ago? He can no longer return to work. The financial blow of him "retiring" 12 years early nearly bankrupted his family. The legal issues on who is still liable is still going on, after all this time there still has been no settlement. Poor guy.
Touch wood the worst injury I've suffered is a few cuts and bruises.
What? No settlement yet? That is sad. Poor guy!
My husband was working with hot asphalt, carrying buckets of it back and forth. There were 2x4s laying on the roof and he took his eye off of where he was walking and tripped-up on one of the 2x4s. He didn't fall but the asphalt splashed out of the buckets all over his arms. One worker used his melon and took his cooler full of water and splashed it on his arms cooling off the asphalt before it became a 3rd degree burn. Removal at the hospital consisted of nurses scrubbing and ripping the pieces of asphalt off of his arm! AHHHHH! The scars still itch him to this day.
No settlement. He was a sub-contractor of a sub-contractor of a contractor on a building site. The case goes round & round in circles trying to establish who was liable for who, who's insurance covers what, whether the scaffold was faulty or wrongly constructed and so on.
He has received benefits from Work Cover, however the legal suit for damages is getting no where.
Did my finger a beauty during the week. The drill lost grip jamming my little finger into a sharp edge of timber. Being a typical Tradie, I bandaged it up with tissues and electrical tape. However the on-site first-aid man didn't see this appropriate and sent me off to hospital. Good thing really as I tore a huge chunk out the side of the finger and needed a bit of work.
No day off though, back to work by the end of the day.