Your worst day on the job?

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Forum topic by Sark posted 07-17-2019 08:40 PM 1341 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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316 posts in 1208 days

07-17-2019 08:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: accident

So on this memorable day, I had hired a concrete cutter to cut a trench in the customer’s kitchen. The plan was to get rid of the peninsula and create an island. Unfortunately the vibration from the concrete saw caused the glass shelves of the customer’s display cabinet to collapse. Just as we finished sawing the homeowner ran into to describe the calamity. All of their finest glass ware, including their 30-year old wedding china was reduced to rubble. Not a single piece survived.

I assured him that we would compensate him for the loss (that’s what insurance is for) and then after a while, we got back to the demolition. When we finished hauling out the concrete and some dirt, water started welling up inside the trench and didn’t want to quit. Seeing that the house was about to be flooded, we started bailing with a hastily arranged bucket brigade…and bailed for more than an hour. Don’t know how many gallons of water we dumped into the back patio before the flow slowed and stopped enough so that we could clean up and go home.

In analyzing the display-cabinet failure, I saw that the shelf pins were 5mm but the holes in the cabinet were drilled for 1/4” pins (6.5mm hole). So the pins were loose enough that any significant vibration could cause collapse. None-the-less, it was our vibration that caused the problem. The next week the owner reported that he had researched the value of the broken glassware, and that it had no market value, only sentimental value, so therefore he would not make a damage claim.

Our plumber arrived in the nick of time and I must say, I was never so happy to see him. The water was caused by an under-the-slab pinhole leak which he fixed.

Rather than saying that we dodged ‘two bullets’ I would say that we took two bullets but that neither were fatal. I’ve had more bad days (of course) but that one was unforgettable. Not always bliss to run your own company….and I will always feel bad about the china.

13 replies so far

View PaulDoug's profile


2394 posts in 2551 days

#1 posted 07-17-2019 09:28 PM

My wife had beautiful glass cabinet that sat on a table, she collected crystal figurines that she thought were very valuable and beautiful. She knocked over the glass cabinet one day,,,, all gone! I’ve alway be grateful it wasn’t me that did it…..!!!!! Not work related, but your post reminded me of it…. I gave thanks again…

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View MrRon's profile


5931 posts in 4091 days

#2 posted 07-17-2019 09:50 PM

A former house I lived in had a flat roof (Eichle built house).It hadn’t rained in a month, so I figured this would be a good time to put on a new roof. I went on the roof and removed all the gravel and roofing material and quit for the day. That night it rained something fierce. The roof was made up of 2×6 T&G boards and the water and tar residue went through like a strainer. It left an inch of water on the floor. Fortunately I had a roll of plastic sheeting that we hastily covered the furniture with. Net result: The insurance company paid for our loss and put us up in a motel for 2 weeks + food and drink. Murphy’s law at it’s finest. If anything can go wrong; it will.

View SMP's profile


2447 posts in 753 days

#3 posted 07-18-2019 01:11 AM

Man that must have been a deep peninsula to cut pipes. At least he didn’t chop the post tension cables. Could have gotten ugly!

Though not to far from me a few days ago there was construction going on that blew up a house, killed a gas company employee and injured 15 or so other people!

View Knockonit's profile


693 posts in 1050 days

#4 posted 07-18-2019 01:34 AM

Aw gotta love construction, sometimes the planets line up and one is fubared beyond belief. I’ve had a crew tear off a absolutely beautiful patio, wrong address, here in Az, we have avenues and streets, places and drives, and a simple omission fouled up the day.
and one day the work order wasn’t correct, and a demo crew tore out a very nice large shower, and of course the homeowner had directed them to the wrong bath, uh right. nothing like re doing a perfectly good shower at the cost of about 6k. don’t wanna talk about the patio thing.
anyhows, do enough work long enough and well the planets line up.
best of luck with recover,
Rj in az

-- Living the dream

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3731 days

#5 posted 07-18-2019 07:23 AM

We had renos done which included new carpeting in the basement. I’d picked out the carpet without my wife. The old carpet had been torn out by our contractor and rolled up and was in the hallway waiting to go to the dump.
On the day the new carpet was to be installed, my wife called me to complain that the carpet I’d picked looked really bad; she said it looked like something from the early 80’s. I was surprised b/c usually I have the better design tastes between us. When I got home from work I went to check out the newly installed carpet and found that the carpet layer hadn’t put the new carpet in, he’d simply put back the old carpet, which I guess he thought was the new stuff.

Felt kind of bad for him watching him spend the whole next day removing the carpet he’d just installed and replacing it with the new stuff.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Sark's profile


316 posts in 1208 days

#6 posted 07-18-2019 01:38 PM

That carpet story is hilarious! And I can understand why, Kockonit, you don’t want to talk about the patio that was ripped out by mistake. A bad day, yes, but not tragic. Someone getting hurt or killed is a different category, and not really the subject of this post.

In the case of the water welling up from the kitchen, it wasn’t a pipe that was cut. There had been a small pinhole leak in the copper pipe under the slab. Over the course of months or years, a lot of water under pressure had accumulated under the slab. When we cut open the floor, the pressurized water now had a place to go. The trench we made was maybe 12” -16” wide and 8 feet long, and about 12” deep. Not huge. But it kept refilling with water even though the water the kitchen had been turned off.

View DS's profile


3546 posts in 3268 days

#7 posted 07-18-2019 03:29 PM

Back in the mid-1980’s we installed a kitchen that had uppers over a peninsula with glass panel doors on the front and back.

The new homeowner put grandma’s very heavy heirloom china in the display cabinet.

All would’ve been okay, except our installer didn’t account for the excessive drywall joint compound in the corner shifting all his pre-drilled screw holes over almost 3/4” of an inch. Just enough for the hanging screws to catch the very edge of the studs and appear to have landed home, but not enough to have any real strength.

As you can imagine, the whole run of uppers came crashing down onto the counter top, punching through and landing inside the base run of cabinets like a giant paper hole-punch.

The broken heirloom china was irreplaceable, but, not nearly as tragically irreplaceable as the family cat, who was on the counter top when it fell.

Somehow, an apology and a gift certificate to adopt from the local animal shelter just rings hollow.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View LeeRoyMan's profile


1399 posts in 575 days

#8 posted 07-18-2019 05:39 PM

The broken heirloom china was irreplaceable, but, not nearly as tragically irreplaceable as the family cat, who was on the counter top when it fell.

Somehow, an apology and a gift certificate to adopt from the local animal shelter just rings hollow.

- DS

It’s really tragic when a family is affected like that. How old was the
China…. botta bing…

-- I only know... what I know....

View DS's profile


3546 posts in 3268 days

#9 posted 07-18-2019 06:33 PM

This is from about 2001, or so.

Ten minutes after distributing shop copies of the specs and drawings to each department in the shop, my phone rings. “Is it too late to change my mind about color?”, the client asked.
He wants to go with the lighter color instead of the darker color.
“No problem”, I say.

Well, I went and painstakingly retrieved all the copies that I just distributed that showed the wrong color and reprinted all the paperwork with the corrected color and re-distributed them to all of the departments. Nobody had even looked at the papers yet.

About a week later, the GM comes into my office. “That job is the wrong color”, he says. I said, “No, the client changed his mind at the last minute from the darker color to the lighter one.”

To which, the GM says, “No, it IS the darker color”.

How in the heck is that even possible?

So we tracked down the department manager for the finishing and I asked him, “I changed all the paperwork, where did you even get this color?”

He says, “It was on the whiteboard in your office.”

Freakin’ Murphy’s law!

BTW, the whiteboard in my office was used for scheduling jobs and NOT for job specs… (just sayin’)
We ended up remaking the entire house of cabinets – it was more cost effective than refinishing from dark to light.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View MrRon's profile


5931 posts in 4091 days

#10 posted 07-18-2019 08:37 PM

I had water seeping up through a slab-on-grade. It was warm water. I tore up the concrete and found a copper hot water pipe that was badly corroded and a steel nail embedded in the pipe. It appears that when the house was built, the carpenter threw old nails and other debris on the ground before the slab was poured. Electrolysis between dissimilar metals in damp ground caused the corrosion; had to re-plumb the line through the attic.

View rockusaf's profile


181 posts in 950 days

#11 posted 07-19-2019 04:35 AM

I guess worst day on the job is relative, a couple of “worst days” that come to mind for me involve lost lives and limbs but one that comes to mind before I joined the AF was when we made a new unexpected window in the shop. Working in a cabinet shop and we had a shipment of sheet goods, I was off loading another pallet nearby so luckily I wasn’t involved directly. One of the other guys was attempting to stack a pallet full of 5’x12’ sheets of 1 1/2” thick MDF without taking the time to put on the longer forks I had on my forklift. His pallet shifted and once sheets that big and heavy start moving they don’t stop easily. The boss was not happy with the hole they tore in the side of the building but at least nobody got hurt. The time and effort it would have taken to swap forks was certainly less than moving all that MDF by hand.


-- Measure Once Cuss Twice

View Redoak49's profile


4869 posts in 2836 days

#12 posted 07-19-2019 11:15 AM

The worst day is relative. Mine was the loss of two lives due to industrial accident and happened right in front of me.

View farmfromkansas's profile


219 posts in 462 days

#13 posted 07-19-2019 05:49 PM

I had a career in the building business, and farming. Guess the good Lord looks after me, as I have never gone through the things you guys describe. I did have a driveway ruined on a new house, by some drywall truck or some other heavy truck deciding to turn around on it. Had to have the thing jackhammered out and replaced, wish I had a camera mounted on the house to see who did it. Also had a mess with a plumber one time, the plumbers son had his cord stolen on my job, and he demanded I replace it. I also lost 3 new windows that we did not get installed the previous day, so on the next house, the plumbers son poured purple primer in the whirlpool tub, then the plumber lied and said nothing they use would have ruined the tub floor, so I had to pay to have the tub refinished. Come to find out, the guy who stole the stuff, was the plumbers hired help, who was using drugs, and stealing to support his habit. I did not pay for the cord. Figured he could have taken it with him after work if he was concerned about losing it.

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