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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    05.31.14 @ 08:17 PM
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    Default No Shit, There I Was ( The 'Why Am I Still Alive Thread)

    A recent post in the 'Funny Pictures" Thread got me thinking about all the times I almost got killed on this one job.

    I had taken a job at a temp agency that placed me out at a water company filtration plant. The water here is full of Iron, so it has to be filtered through a series of giant, two-story tanks where the various chemiclas are added to clean and purify the water. The Iron is filtered out through a series of three or four olympic pool-sized ponds.

    The facility was named "Begonia Iron Removal Plant"...or BIRP (burp).

    I was hired as the "Man Friday" for an engineer from Sytems Integrated out of San Diego, CA. The plant was going through and upgrade and was behind schedule and over budget. It became clear that nobody had any clue as to how to coordinate the project, you had iron workers, electricians, chemical storage specialists and systems specialists (which I was one).

    I knew that I might be in trouble when I showed up the first day on the job and was handed some tools and told to wire the control pannels. I had just come from a job as a shipping/receiving manager and toy salesman, so I was not exactly qualified to be doing electronics work. Once my boss walked me through the first two attachments I found that it was pretty simple, match the colored wires to the like-colored posts and there you go.

    After I had wired the pannels I then manually addressed the NICs (network interface cards), which involved climing around amoungst these giant pipes. It wouldn't have been so bad except that the pipe-fitters were still working. They were pretty good about making sure that I was clear before they unleashed a shower of sparks. However, they were loud, working in a concrete building banging and cutting steel is noisy. So while I was working on one end of this hallway they were cutting an 1800lb section of 18 inch pipe and without warning they cut and dropped the pipe..."KLANG!!!!!", the sound knocked the air out of me because it was so friggin loud. I was already lying on my back so I was lucky because had I been up on the pipes the impact may have knocked me out. As it was I lay there for a few minutes until I felt well enough to move.

    Then, a few days later I get attached to the Chemical Storage guy, the head guy who'd come from the bay area to supervise the final phase before activation, which is when they pump the chemicals into their new tanks. So he and I climb up to the top of this two-story-tall containment tank and he looks down into the tank and goes "Hmmmm" and points out that there's about four inches of water on the bottom of the tank. So he gets on the cell phone and calls someone to ask if anybody knows what will happen if you mix the chemical that's going into this tank with water. The Chemical was a Clorine-based concentrate. Nobody on the other end of the phone had a clue and they said that they'd call him back. So we climb down off of the tank and we're standing about 40 feet away when we hear the pumps start up and the sound of the tank filling with fluid. The guy looks at me and says 'Run upwind!", uh, okay...which way is that? So I run to the opposite side of the complex and then down to where my truck is parked.

    Nothing happens.

    So after five minutes I returned to the control area and track down this guy and he looks at me and shrugs. He told me that the stuff in the tanks in a gasious form would melt your lungs and cause eye damage.

    Then there was the day that they tried to drown us.

    It was in the afternoon and I'm standing in the workcenter of the BIRP plant with my boss and we're putting the valves through their paces. Then we stop and my boss is reviewing his data. Just outside the pipe-fitters are removing a valve head for a re-fit. So I'm standing there looking at the numbers on my boss' computer when suddenly this two-foot tall wall of water comes rushing into the room. It's like out of Titanic as the room almost intantly fills with knee deep water and I look at my boss, he looks at me and then over to the WALL OF CIRCUIT BREAKERS and then he looks back at me and his eyes are wide with fear. "Fuck, we're going to get electrocuted in here!!" he says and we both run, or try to run in the now waste-deep water. We head down the hall to a side door and make it outside and get to a safe area where we watch the water stream out from every door.

    I have to say that this was the most fun I've ever had on a job.


    I know somebody has a better story. If you're sick of politcal threads then this is your chance to make this place fun again.
    "Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is." - B. Banzai


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  2. #2
    Sinner's Swing! Bullwinkle's Avatar
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    That's quite a story, Axxman. I'm glad our drinking water is in such safe hands.

    OSHA, meet BIRP. BIRP, this is OSHA. He'd like to have a word with you.

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk Viking's Avatar
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    11.02.17 @ 09:45 PM
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    I've worked a couple of jobs that were a little scary, but my job between my time at Amazon had to be the most scary of them all.

    It was hot, and I don't mean 100 degrees hot, I mean 120+ degrees hot due to the fact that the place is a plastics company and it's filled with ovens.

    One day they wanted me to climb up on the machine that I worked at to fill it with oil. They didn't shut the machine off! It was still cycling, but according to them I had enough time to climb up there, fill it with oil, and climb back down.

    First of all, the thing cycled about every three minutes. Second, it was slick with oil, and you had to be very careful climbing up on this thing, or you could slip and fall down into the machine. There's no way you could make it up there holding a jug of oil, unscrew the cap, pour the oil in there, put the cap back on and then get back down in three minutes.

    I told them to shut the damn thing off or I wasn't going up there, so they finally decided that they could shut the machine down to oil it. The reason they were so hesitant to shut the machine down, is because it took about a half hour to forty five minutes to get the machine back up and running again after shutting it down.

    The worst thing at that job though was on my second day, the guy that was training me went into one of the machines to make an adjustment. As he crawled into the machine, the damn thing started to close down on him! I don't know how to describe what was going through my mind as it was total chaos. I felt like I was moving in slow motion while everything was moving around me at double speed. I managed to get to the stop button just as he was crawling out of this thing. He would have made it out even if I hadn't hit the button, but by only fractions of a second. He was a little guy, about 5'4" and maybe 115-120 lbs, otherwise I don't think he would have made it. I know I wouldn't have gotten out of that sonofabitch. It would have squashed me like a bug. I just about quit right there and then. Later on in the day, the supervisor crawled into the machine to try to do the same adjustment, and it did the same thing to him, and he barely made it out of the machine.

    Amazon.com is very focused on safety, and they would never ask me to do anything completely stupid like Charloma did.
    "Viking - last to sleep, first to rise, last to leave, that's how the Nords of old rocked the house." ~ timmac in the 'Texas Linkers' thread talking about yours truly. :-)

  4. #4
    Hot sauce on everything Red's Avatar
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    12.06.17 @ 06:36 AM
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    I worked on a night crew at a pork processing plant once, doing daily cleaning on various lines, machinery, grinders.....basically using hot water at high pressure to clean pork fat off of everything between 2nd and 1st shift. Anyway, long story short, there was this one grinder thing, just a big square steel box the size of a car or something, with two auger/mixing blades running through the "box". Stuff comes in one end, passes through these mixer paddles, goes out the other end and down a chute to somewhere else.....anyway, you stand outside of this thing with your hose and spray it out. A simple two-button on/off control box is mounted just outside of this thing. At some point, you turn it on so the augers are turning and you clean them, but there were certain spots you just couldn't get to without stopping the thing, and basically climbing on top of it, or even getting into it, somewhat, to finish the job. I was always nervous around this thing, which was a good thing. I tried to never actually get my legs around these augers just in case they start turning for some reason.

    Anyway, I did this every night for awhile, then moved on.....well, a few months later, I read in the paper that a young guy was killed in this thing, from the newspaper account, it had to be the exact same piece of equipment. Apparently he tried to clean it with the thing running, and somehow got snagged and pulled in and basically pulled apart. Too loud in the place to hear a scream, if there was even time.....he was eventually found, but........needless to say, the whole thing gave me chills, and it was 12 years ago and I still think about it, and I still get the heeby jeebies.

    Long story, I know, sorry about that.

  5. #5
    Sinner's Swing! twonabomber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viking View Post
    I told them to shut the damn thing off or I wasn't going up there, so they finally decided that they could shut the machine down to oil it. The reason they were so hesitant to shut the machine down, is because it took about a half hour to forty five minutes to get the machine back up and running again after shutting it down.
    sounds like extrusion. i temped at a place that had those.
    "is this a good show tonight, or fuckin' what?" - DLR, Montreal, 11/10/07

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  6. #6
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    07.04.16 @ 08:03 PM
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    This is a good thread idea! I'm gonna have to think back and see if I have any good work stories to share.

  7. #7
    Sinner's Swing! twonabomber's Avatar
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    close to death? no. close to losing a finger? yup. beyond that...my work experience has been relatively tame.
    "is this a good show tonight, or fuckin' what?" - DLR, Montreal, 11/10/07

    Toronto 10/7...Cleveland 10/10...Toronto 10/12...Montreal 11/10

  8. #8
    Good Enough Tropical Storm Tracey's Avatar
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    11.18.17 @ 07:19 PM
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    Stick with "sales" people.The worse you have to put up with there is stupid drivers and irate customers....which is really no problem. Of course when the company you work for are a bunch of assholes...well that's another story.

    HH has decided he's rather do his firefighter/paramedic job than spend another minute at manual labor digging a ditch in my front yard to fix my water and sewer pipe. He and my Daddy did that for the past 2 days and he was so sore and tired. I asked him how he'd like to do that everyday all day for minimum wage. Methinks he'll keep his current job.

    TST<------------- has new pipes thanks to my baby!----------------

  9. #9
    Baluchitherium Ted Van Halen's Avatar
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    Good thread. My personal near death exp. was having a seizure(from the tumor) while driving 70+ in the fast lane on I-95 North on the bridge crossing Lake Marion near Santee, SC. One minute I'm trucking along headed home, the next I'm being awakened by some lady I don't know in my truck with the front bumper on top of the guard rail w/ the lake 50 feet below.

    Workwise, I work at a rubber molding facility & we had a guy get caught in the mix mill(2 24" x 6ft solid steel rollers 1/2" apart). I didn't see it but those who did said he came out in 3 pieces.

    OSHA cleared the mill for service & it was determined that he climbed on top of the mill & fell in as all of the trip wires were still intact.
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  10. #10
    Hot sauce on everything Red's Avatar
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    12.06.17 @ 06:36 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Van Halen View Post
    Good thread. My personal near death exp. was having a seizure(from the tumor) while driving 70+ in the fast lane on I-95 North on the bridge crossing Lake Marion near Santee, SC. One minute I'm trucking along headed home, the next I'm being awakened by some lady I don't know in my truck with the front bumper on top of the guard rail w/ the lake 50 feet below.
    Dang, I've been through there....sorry that happened to you, Ted.

    I like those lowcountry bridges, even the ones that aren't over water, it gives a good perspective of the geography. LC South Carolina is beautiful, IMO.


    And good to see you posting, as well.

  11. #11
    Atomic Punk
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    05.31.14 @ 08:17 PM
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    Then there was the time had had to clean the enclosed hallway where the dumpster for the pizza parlor was...

    It hadn't been cleaned in a few years and there was this nasty, greasy muck under it. So, quick-thinking me grabs the Ammonia AND the Bleach and I dump a liberal amount onto the muck. First I poor a ton of Ammonia, then I poor on the Bleach....instantly white gasious vapors star rising from the floor.

    I start coughing, hard.

    So I run out and fill a bucket full of hot water and grab a towel which I wrap around my face and I grap my swim goggles*** and head back out. The gas had built up dramatically so I dump the hot water, hoping to dilute the Ammonium-Cholride muck-cleaner a bit so I can start scrubbing. The hot water just put more gas into th air and by this time someone from the kitchen came out to find out where the gawd awful smell was coming from. Together we grab a hose and dump water into he hallway and then I run down to the end to open the door and get air flowing in.

    This attracted the mall manager, who could smell my science experiment from her office some distance away. She started to ask what we were doing but started hacking and was driven off. It took 20 minutes for the hall to be habitable again and the mall sent a nasty letter to the owner. He didn't give a shit.

    On the bright side, the muck on the floor vanished and nothing would grow there for 18 months and all of he cockroaches left.
    "Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is." - B. Banzai


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Van Halen View Post
    Good thread. My personal near death exp. was having a seizure(from the tumor) while driving 70+ in the fast lane on I-95 North on the bridge crossing Lake Marion near Santee, SC. One minute I'm trucking along headed home, the next I'm being awakened by some lady I don't know in my truck with the front bumper on top of the guard rail w/ the lake 50 feet below.
    Man, Ted, you've been through some serious shit with that damn tumor. I'm quite glad you're posting here today!

  13. #13
    Atomic Punk Viking's Avatar
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    11.02.17 @ 09:45 PM
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    When I worked in Chanute, Kansas at a boiler manufacturing plant, I had a little accident in one of the drums.



    If you look at the picture, there is a large drum on top and then there is a smaller one on the bottom. Picture this thing standing on it's side, and I was working in the smaller drum.

    I was working my way up from the bottom rolling out the tubes. Rolling out the tubes meant using a large pneumatic rolling motor. Just picture a 2 1/2 foot long air ratchet about 3" in diameter, and you can probably get a mental image of what I'm talking about. They have a long tapered pin at the end of it, coming out at a right angle, to which the tube expander fits over. When this is put into the tube and you hit the air, the pin rotates and works it's way down through the expander, spreading the tube out and seating it in the drum. You can see the tool, and basically how it's used here:

    http://www.krais.com/_pliki/k70_english.pdf

    Anyway, I had run the expander until the motor wouldn't run anymore, so I reached up and turned the switch to run it backwards to get it out. These things develop about 1500+ lbs of torque, so it was important to brace your motor so it didn't kick back on you. In these small drums, we usually just moved it to the other side of the drum, and let the drum do the work. Well, I didn't brace it and with it just inches from my head, I hit the trigger. This fucker slapped me upside the head, and drove my head into the other side of the drum. To make it worse, the thumb on my left hand was stuck between the trigger and my head, and I couldn't let go of the trigger! I finally got my hand/thumb out of there, and thought "Well, I just need to compose myself, and then get back to work" and then I felt something trickle down the right side of my face, so I reached up, and sure enough, it's blood. It had slammed me on the other side of the drum, and there were tubes sticking into the drum by about 3/8ths of an inch, so they had left these little half moon looking gashes in the side of my head and I was bleeding profusely. At that point I thought, "I need to get out of here". I have no memory of crawling out of the drum or walking to the offices but I managed to get out of the drum, and find my manager. My next memory is standing in front of him and telling him "Dennis, I've had a little accident", and he looked at me and said "JESUS CHRIST!!!" My head had swollen out on both sides and I looked like a damn alien. They took me to the hospital and did x-rays and didn't find anything broken or cracked, but I did have a nice concussion which affected my balance for about 2-3 weeks.

    To top it all off, I had to call my sister, because they wouldn't let me drive home so she comes and gets me in her little Dodge Daytona. As I'm getting into this short sonofabitch, I hit my head getting in the car.

    The Dr. told me that I was very lucky to be alive. For a couple of days, I didn't feel very lucky.
    "Viking - last to sleep, first to rise, last to leave, that's how the Nords of old rocked the house." ~ timmac in the 'Texas Linkers' thread talking about yours truly. :-)

  14. #14
    Banned! Apocalypso's Avatar
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    From '77 to '93, I worked my first few years as a sheet metal mechanic than moved into the Aerospace industry, 10 years on the Stealth Fighter skunkworks program and 3 1/2 years on the C-17 Globemaster cargo plane before I was laid off and changed careers. I had a few near-fatal incidents and saw a *lot* of people get seriously injured and a couple people killed, mostly on the C-17 program at McDonald Douglas (now Boeing) in Long Beach, CA. McDonald Douglas actually had an on site emergency paramedic force with ambulance and fire truck, and we'd see the guys taking someone out on a stretcher a couple times a week.

    Probably one incident that actually resulted in injury to me that sticks out was when I was working in final assembly on the C-17 as a structure mechanic. Basically, I along with about 100 other people split up into small crews would assemble the main components of a plane - join the wings to the airframe, the cargo door to the aft end and all the little sub-assemblies as well. Anyway, when this is being done, there's "painters scaffolding" built up all around the plane inside and outside so people can get to every inch of the plane. Working inside the cargo area, it's about 3 levels high worth of scaffolding.

    So I'm working basically on the lowest level doing my thing, and some guy in the upper level I guess tried to hang his tool bag on the end of a bar of the scaffold and it came loose and dropped 20 whatever feet and hit me square on my upper back and left shoulder while I was bending over. It floored me but I wasn't knocked out and as it was near the end of the shift, I basically toughed it out and went to the doctor the next day who gave me some pain meds. About two days later, I lost feeling in my right arm and I couldn't turn my head at all. My future wife took me to an ER and the x-rays indicated at first I might have a broken neck but it turned out to be a couple herniated discs which took months to finally heal.

    Thinking back, probably the worst thing I saw working the C-17 program was one guy who took a 25 foot header when he wasn't paying attention and blithely walked off the end of a wing without his safety harness attached. My buddy and I were working on another plane right next to his and we both were kind of bullshitting and he pointed to the guy and said something like "that idiot doesn't have his harness on" and as I looked he just took a step and over the wing he went and hit *head first* on the concrete floor. His head just busted right open.

    Going back to my sheet metal days around '78, I remember getting my best friend a job at the company (the guy who talked me into seeing VH in '77, btw) and the first week he was there, he was helping this other guy carry a 8 foot by 12 foot sheet of .104 steel from one table to another and the other guy kind of lost his grip a bit forcing my friend to shift his grip and the sheet slipped from their grasp and scrambling to grab it before it hit the floor, the corner caught his forearm and ripped a 6 inch long slice. The poor guy nearly bled to death right there before someone got a rag tied around the wound. He quit that job the next day and never worked any sort of blue collar job again.

    Man, now that I think of it, I've got dozens of these kind of stories.

    T.B.

  15. #15
    PM Goo with your concerns OLO's Avatar
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    Vike, the guy that walked off the wing and landed on his head - Did he die?
    ((Just My Two Cents))
    And thats about what its worth.

 

 

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