You couldnt make this up

For anyone who does risk assessments, perhaps Health & Safety does matter................


Possibly the funniest story in a long while. This is a bricklayer's accident report, which was printed in the newsletter of the Australian equivalent of the Workers' Compensation board.

This is a true story. Had this guy died, he'd have received a Darwin Award for sure.......

Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block 3 of the accident report 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 that I had some bricks left over which, when weighed later were found to be slightly in excess of 500lbs.

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 on the sixth floor.

Securing the rope at ground 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 ensure a slow descent of the bricks. You will note in Block 11 of the accident report form that I weigh 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 explained the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collar bone, as listed in section 3 of the accident report 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.

Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of beginning to experience pain.

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, that barrel weighed approximately 50 lbs. I refer you again to my weight.

As you can 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 several 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, 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 down onto me. This explains the two broken legs.

I hope this answers your inquiry.

Kevin Roben
Wagga Glass & Aluminium Pty Ltd
PO Box 5004 (11 Dobney Ave)
Wagga Wagga NSW 2650


It's also Irish folk song called Paddy's sicknote, I seem to remember and have heard it sung and with awesome comic timing (Dubliners i think?).
Yes Skivivor I think you're right.

Haven't heard it in years but I'm sure it was doing the rounds along with the song McAlpine's Fusiliers.

Showing my age now.....


Also known as
The Sick Note,
Paddy And The Barrel,
Why Paddy's Not At Work Today,
The Bricklayer's Song.


Book Reviewer
...and Mythbusters debunked the whole story as implausible.
It was also done on Mythbusters and they proved that the barrel would not break even if it was really old, unless it hit a plank sat on it's edge to act as a kind of blade. It's a popular urban-myth in the US.
Nice to see this old cherry coming out again.

Old Snowy is perfectly correct. This was the original work of Gerard Hoffnung, recorded on 4th December 1958 and known as The Bricklayer's Story from a speech he gave at the Oxford Union.

It's a shame that the genius of Hoffman wasn't acknowledged. Bloody Aussies are always taking credit for other people's original work.

This is a link to the original comedy letter (LINK)
I remember this ( or something very similar) being performed by an "old time" star many years ago. I believe, but stand to be corrected, that it was W C fields?


Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Shoes; as stated earlier, it was Gerard Hoffnung. Had a very fruity and very English voice. A brilliant speaker and tremendous wit. A terribly dry delivery, and that just made it so much the funnier.
Different country, and different humour, but I would also recommend anyone to listen to the monologues of Bob Newhardt. Squirmingly funny stuff.


The Corries version was very good, you should've heard that one HTB??
DemsMaShoes said:
I remember this ( or something very similar) being performed by an "old time" star many years ago. I believe, but stand to be corrected, that it was W C fields?
Cheers OFAH. For some reason I thought it was earlier than 1958. Perhaps I'm getting it confused with the Laurel & Hardy scene with the donkey.


OK. I've now read the posts that tell me this isn't true and neither is it original. And I've read the content of the links to earlier versions .......

......... but it doesn't detract from the fact that I was literally crying with laughter as I read heidtheba's post. ('Cos I don't recall hearing or reading this before.) Bloody hilarious! :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


In the link I posted earlier, says that the tale is over 100 years old. It refers to two publications dated 1895 and 1902, so it would appear that Gerard Hoffnung was not the original author, contrary to what others have said on here.
Oh well, the Hoffnung version was certainly the one best known over in the UK, and long predated the latest Aussie incarnation of what we all agree is a good old (and made up) tale.

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