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Watching a Roofer Fall in Sarasota

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I work out 3 times a week with a trainer in a private gym near my office. I am not a pretentious person, but even though I have a membership at LA Fitness, I prefer the private gym as it affords me the ability to hurl invectives, insults and obscenities at my trainer without offending innocent bystanders. 

Don't worry about my trainers feelings. He can take it. In fact, he revels in it. It is apparently a badge of honor and accomplishment. I should have known when I saw the motto on his business card was "I'm not happy till you’re not happy". 

Across from this gym is a home with a section of flat roof that has a deck on it. Leading up to that deck is a steel circular stairways. The deck is about 12 feet off the ground. One day last week there were roofers on that house, stripping away the surface material on that section of the roof. While I was finishing up a particular exercise, I heard my trainer scream "Oh S**t!" 

For a split second I thought my exercise form, which usually most closely resembles a cow birthing a breach calf, had hit a particularly disturbing snag. However, I quickly noticed my trainer was looking out the window. My focus shifted to over his shoulder, where I saw a roofer, airborne, landing on the driveway and falling into a roll across its surface. Behind him, the circular staircase was hitting the ground, rocking to a stop a few feet away.

Apparently they had removed the material securing the stairs to the building, when one of the workers stepped on to the stair landing, and away they both went. He jumped off the stairs as they fell, and hit the driveway in a rolling fall. 

We watched as he stood, shaking his head, and his legs, and then walking around the driveway, clearly shaken by his experience. Another worker on the roof stood on the edge, speaking to him. I can only imagine that he was saying “Remember, if anyone asks this happened at home!” 

Wait, that is wrong. These are Florida roofers. He was more likely saying, “Recuerde, si alguien le pregunta que esto sucedió en casa!” 

Of course, most people who witness such an event immediately focus their concern on the welfare of the accident victim. While I was of course concerned about that, I discovered that I’ve probably been doing this too long. My immediate thought was about the type of claim it would be, and who would end up handling it. I thought about the attorney that would eventually be hired, and the growing list of maladies the man I was watching would eventually discover. I thought at the time, that I am becoming too cynical for this. Fortunately, the man did not appear to be seriously injured, but you never know. It was a hard fall, and he very well could have caused damage to his body.

It is odd, in that so many of us hear stories about injuries and discuss claims and associated issues all day long. It becomes somewhat clinical for us, somewhat detached from the emotion and realities of those who both witness and experience those events. When those of us from within the industry see something like this, we cannot help but view it with a little “beyond the scene” analysis about the farther reaching effects of that one spilt second event. 

I imagine this is not uncommon for most people when dealing with issues concerning their professions and livelihood. I once had a career in food service. As a former card carrying Food Handling Safety Certified Professional (Florida requires that), I still cringe in restaurants where standards aren’t what they should be. To this day I see things and comment on issues in restaurants that most people would never notice. 

Whether it is a server delivering my drink while holding the glass by the rim, or a roofer taking the express route from his work in a failed attempt to fly, the extended view analysis is bound to occur.

So, to set the record straight, if you are managing claims in Florida and one comes across your desk where a Sarasota roofer says he rode the circular stairs to the ground,  I saw the whole thing. He really did. Give this cynic a call. 

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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.

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Subscribe to comments feed Comments (2 posted)

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01/18/2013 12:21:48
Recently while relaxing by the pool in Puerto Vallarta, in a resort on the beach, I watched construction workers on a half-built high rise going up nearby. I couldn't believe my eyes (and in fact had to put on my glasses to make sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing) - workers walking on beams with no safety harnesses! No hardhats! They moved like they were characters in Cirque du Soleil! I don't know if they even have workers' compensation insurance in Mexico - or much insurance at all given that I have seen families of four all riding one motorcycle with no helmets. And I have learned to be VERY careful walking on the streets, since you can fall into a hole or twist your ankle by just looking up into a shop window. It's a wonder my husband wants to go anywhere with me since I am always calling out safety violations - or what would be violations in this country......you are right, you can't help thinking about that stuff once you have been in the business awhile!
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Carol 01/23/2013 07:15:10
Couldn't help myself in a local grocery store when, while standing at the seafood counter, I watched workers slide from side to side behind the counter (dead fish in hand) because the tile floor was so slippery! They slid to the scale to weigh & price the fist, over to the prep counter to wrap the order, slid back to the customer to deliver it. They, and customers, thought the whole thing was hysterically funny - and very efficient!

Actually did have a word wiht the store manager about the term "horseplay" and how much trouble he could find himself in if one of those guys got hurt! New seafood counter, same store - rubber mats!
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