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When people go to work, they usually expect to be safe, but unsafe workplace practices, inattentive coworkers, and aggressive customers can get in the way of that. No one should be risking their lives or safety for just a paycheck, but that's what some unfortunate workers have to deal with.
We searched through Reddit and found tales of the most dangerous, unsafe workplaces there are. These workers are sharing the scariest day they ever had on the job, and their tales are pretty terrifying. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"When I was still a student architect, working part-time in a firm, we had an on-site workplace accident. We were doing some restoration work to an old hotel that had its roof blown off during the winter. The contract was going well, and the work on site was quick, but a storm came through and ended up causing more damage to the work site.
We shut the site down and told the contractor to keep his workers off-site until we could have a surveyor come in and make sure everything was stable. The contractor cleared all his men off the site, but they forgot that there was a subcontractor working on site that day, removing old door frames. The damaged roof wasn't pinned securely, and the whole thing came down, while the guy was still inside working. He died from his injuries and EVERYONE involved in that contract got sued.
In the end, the contractor was found to be at fault, because it was their job to keep track of who was on site; but the architect also ended up folding just from legal costs."
"I used to volunteer at a hospital. One time, a convict was brought in, and they had, no lie, five cops watching him and two by the door.
Somehow, he broke part of the bed where his cuff was attached. He made a run for it, plowing the cops over, hitting the emergency button to seal the door (buying him almost a minute), and hitting the cop by the door with the broken bed piece.
The other one was using the can, that's why there were two. He ran through radiology and made it downstairs and nearly out of the loading bay, but one of our security campus cops cracked him in the head with a board kept by the door."
"I used to be a manager at a big box retailer. One night, we got a call from LAPD (we weren't in LA, but nearby), asking if we had an employee named 'John.' He was working in the stockroom that night, so they told us to not allow him on the sales floor for any reason. It turns out his uncle, high on something, had killed both of his parents and his younger sister and was heard talking about coming for 'John,' all over an inheritance of a few thousand dollars.
Within minutes of the phone call, local cops were both parked outside the building and stationed inside the doors with pictures of the uncle. Luckily for us, he was caught after he hit a bus stop driving to our store. LAPD detectives came and broke the news to 'John' in our stockroom. I've never heard such an awful sound of horror and anguish in my life, and hope never to hear anything like it again. The managers kept him on the payroll, falsifying his punches to make sure he kept his job until he was ready to come back and make sure he had money to live. He came back after six weeks a very different person.
So far as I know, the inheritance ended up covering some of the cost of the funerals, but not all. I think he ended up having to sell his parent's house to pay for it all...it was a long time ago, though, and my memories aren't quite as solid as I'd like."
"I was outside, smoking on my break. We had to smoke by the employee parking area, and as I was sitting there, I saw a person crouched down in between two of my fellow employees' cars and another car that was nearby, with the engine running and someone else in it. Obviously, it looked suspicious, so I went inside and alerted my manager. He was like, 'Oh crap, someone's trying to steal my car!' So he ran out along with the assistant manager, with me following behind.
When we got outside, the mysterious car was already speeding out of the parking lot, with my manager's stolen car pulling out of the spot. My manager ran out to stop the guy (bad idea) and got slammed by this dude stealing the car. It was INSANE. The car drove off and I called 911.
The manager broke both legs, I think, and was out for almost a year."
"I've been a cop for 19 years. About five years ago, my partner and I were dispatched to a welfare check on a 65-year-old man who had missed work for two days and no one could get him on the phone. The family was on scene and worried that he had gotten sick and was unable to call for help or, at worst, had passed away. I looked through the back window and saw trash scattered on the floor and a dog, which led me to believe that the family's fears may be true. I knocked on the door and several windows trying to get someone to answer, but to no avail. Eventually, the decision was made to force entry into the home with the family's permission. My partner broke a small window on the back door and reached in to unlock the door from the inside. When we opened the door, the dog ran out and we entered the home announcing ourselves, 'County Sheriff's Office! Is anyone home?'
No one answered. Neither of us had our service weapons drawn due to the fact that we were just checking on the welfare of a person and we both assumed he would be inside the home, deceased. As my partner was clearing a room adjacent to the kitchen, I heard something from the other end of the house. I shined my flashlight down a long hallway and saw a frail old man in his t-shirt and tighty-whitey underwear holding an AK at the 'low ready' position, squinting his eyes, trying to see down the hallway. My partner and I immediately drew our weapons and began shouting, 'SHERIFF'S OFFICE! DROP THE WEAPON!'
This guy wasn't hearing any of it. After what seemed like forever, but was probably only about 10 LONG seconds, I told my partner to run out the back door. He took off and I bolted out the front door. We both took cover behind my patrol vehicle and began to shout commands through the car's PA system. After about five minutes, the old man came out the back door, buttoning up his pants, wondering what was going on.
He had been sick the past two days and was on some heavy painkillers and was hard of hearing, which is why he didn't hear us banging on the door and windows. He had been robbed in his home about a year prior and thought he was being robbed again when he awoke to us in his home. He told us he couldn't hear what we were shouting but just saw the flashlights in his face. All my partner could say for the next few minutes was, 'I almost shot that man, Frank. I almost shot him.' He was a rookie with less than a year on the road.
My partner and I were praised by the captain the next day for not killing that man in his own home. In hindsight, that would have been a nightmare. I'm thankful I didn't pull the trigger and take his life and thankful he didn't do the same to me."
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"I'm a construction superintendent. I've seen some stuff on the job that would make a lot of folks curl up into a ball and cry.
The worst was a crane accident. It was a 500-ton mobile crane, brand, shiny new, too. We were setting precast panels for a large office/warehouse combined building.
The oiler (aka crane operator in training) was polishing the shiny aluminum deck on the crane, while the crane was operating. He thought he was in a safe spot because the panels were on the truck over there and were being set over here. So he figured he was not in the current swing area of the crane. Except that the precast guys needed a box of plates that were on the opposite side of the crane, so the crane swung that way.
The guy was smashed between the crane's counterweights and the crane deck. He never made a sound, and the operator did not even know it had happened. His body was twisted and mangled nearly beyond recognition before one of the truck driver's saw the blood. There were little bits of brain and bone spread all over the place.
It was horrible.
OSHA's investigation put the blame on the oiler...he was the one that messed up. He should not have been there. Even the crane company avoided any responsibility: they had done their job properly in training the guy, and they had documented proof of this.
It is Crane Operating 101 to know to stay out of the swing radius when a crane is in operation.
I had even gone so far as to have my laborer make a perimeter out of cones and danger tape, and I had documented that with pictures. No one was allowed inside that perimeter except the crane operator and the oiler.
The guy that took it the worst (other than the oiler, of course) was the operator. He blamed himself. That's bull though...the oiler was a grown man and knew better than to be working there."
"When I was in college, I had a summer internship as a forest technician in the Adirondacks. The property I worked on was 30,000 acres and in the middle of nowhere. There was one road on the property that was a loop and it was pretty normal for me to have to hike four to eight miles from the road over mountainous terrain to get where I needed to be.
One day, I was out in the field about six miles from my truck when I got a call over my radio from our headquarters. It was my boss and he sounded pretty panicked. He told me, 'You need to get back to your truck right now. We just got a call from the ranger a few towns over and they say there's a quick moving thunderstorm heading our way it could possibly turn into a microburst.'
I stopped what I was doing and started to head back as quick as I could, and the wind picked up and about 20 minutes later, the rain started to hit. Then I started to hear thunder so I picked up my already quick pace. The entire time, the winds continued to pick up speed and by the time I was two miles from my truck, the gusts must have been pushing 35mph. Now, anyone who actually spends a lot of time in the woods will tell you that one of the most dangerous conditions you can get caught out in this high winds because that is when branches snap and trees fall.
At this point, I was heading up an incline and I hear a loud crack. The next probably 15 to 20 seconds are a complete blur in my mind because all I remember doing was getting a huge adrenaline rush surging up that hill as quickly as possible. Then behind me, literally where I was just standing, a branch that's about 10 inches in diameter hit the ground. That branch could of done anything from killing me to breaking my spine. I ran the rest of the way back to the truck basically on adrenaline alone. The next day I went back to that stand and it was a mess of fallen trees everywhere. Super lucky the ranger called that one in and I started heading back before I heard thunder."
"I worked in a retail deli for seven years. I got hurt when I was cleaning a piece of machinery designed to transport used cooking oil to a tank in the back of the building. While cleaning it, I slipped and the base of my thumb grazed the sharp metal edge where the oil went in. I got cut and ended up getting eight stitches. I have a small scar there now, but nothing major.
However, the worst I've ever seen, though, was when a fellow employee cut the tips of two of her fingers off in the slicer. She screamed and ran past me into the backroom. I saw her clutching her fingers and I knew she got hurt, so I immediately called management, who called an ambulance. I looked over and the two teenage girls whom she had been helping were staring at me angrily like they were upset she didn't finish their order. A few weeks later, she returned to work, now as a door greeter, fingers now missing portions of flesh."
"I work in the trades, and on my second time on a pipeline gig, during safety orientation, box cutters were handed out and everyone wearing a hoodie was told to cut the strings out of the hoods or to pull them out.
I work in Northern Canada, so it gets very cold on the pipeline. A new, young fellow decided he didn't want to ruin his fancy new hoodie, so instead of cutting them, he just tucked them inside his sweater.
Later that day, it was brutally cold. Our faceshields fogged up, and the young kid reached under the pipe with his buffer, cleaning the weld for his welder. As he bent down and leaned further over to reach the bottom of the pipe, the string on his hoodie fell out. As he was coming back up the pipe with the buffer, it snagged the string, immediately ripping the buffer into his face at 12,000 RPM, disfiguring him.
He lost an eye and had to have extensive plastic surgery all because he didn't want to cut the strings off of a $65 hoodie."
"My dad's co-worker was working on a machine that would press rubber into a thin sheet. So you had to put the sheet in and take it out when you're done. The machine had straps to make sure your hands wouldn't stay inside when the press went down. Everyone hated those straps because it would slow them down (they got a bonus if they made more pieces than planned). One day, this guy decided not to put the straps on. The press went down, with his hands still in the machine. His hands melted. Poor guy lost his hands because he wanted to make a little more money."
"Lots of horror show stories from my old job as healthcare security. The area I worked in had a lot of problems with homelessness, addictions, and psych issues. You get used to a lot of weird stuff. But one time, I was asked to evict someone from the waiting room who'd been in the bathroom for an hour.
I opened the door and saw him with a needle. Fine, we all suspected he was shooting up in there. Crappy, but it happens. Except he wasn't. He was using his needle to extract blood from his arm and squirt it down the sink. Over and over again. Maybe he was trying to kill himself, or maybe he had some delusion of needing to purify his blood. He was speaking French the whole time, so it was unclear.
The nurses demanded we get him out of there. We tried, and the first thing he did was lunge at us and try to attack us with his bloody needle. The help we got from the nurses and doctors was their shouted assurances that yes, this guy was HIV positive. Which meant if he even pricked me with that needle once, I was HIV positively-done.
We don't get tazers where I work, so I had to be cautious. In fact, we don't get anything at all. Technically, I'm not even allowed to punch or kick this guy because patient safety is number one priority. So we have to grab something, anything, to fight off the guy with the needle. One of the guys at the desk grabbed a clipboard and used it as a shield against the needle while we wrestled this guy to the ground and waited for the cops to get there. I am glad nobody messed up."
"I worked as a croupier at a casino, regularly had people come in whose money came from various illegal activities. One guy was losing tons of cash on my blackjack table and wasn't happy about it. Despite all the cameras and security, after losing another hand, he went crazy. Smashed a glass and went to cut my face. I couldn't leave the table with a $25,000 float still on it, so I ducked, grabbed the chip cover, and slammed it over the money. By this stage, the guy has grabbed everything not nailed down and started hurling it at me. I avoided a heavy glass ashtray, but it hit the roulette dealer a couple of meters away. He luckily only copped a bruise.
Our friend now had a big wood and studded leather stool held over his head, about to throw it. He was only half a meter away, so I braced myself for impact. He threw too hard; it glanced off my shoulder and hit the pit boss running over to help. He then screamed that he'd be waiting for me after my shift. This whole thing went down in maybe 90 seconds. Security rolled in to find him calmly leaning against a pillar, denying he'd done anything. I left the floor, was interviewed by police and told to go back to work. I asked to go home, they refused to let security walk me to my car. I never went back again."
"I'm a former teacher. I once saw a fight going down just inside the boys' room next to the cafeteria. I didn't understand how bad it was until I grabbed the kid closest to me and flung him backwards against the wall. That's when I saw the other kid holding his stomach and the blood oozing out of the stab wound through his fingers. That was the moment I realized the kid I'd just chucked behind was holding a knife. That split second of vulnerability before I wheeled around on him was terrifying. Fortunately, the kid holding the cheap steak knife wasn't as tough as he thought. He was still leaning against the wall right where I tossed him, looking like he was about to puke.
Turns out the kid that got stabbed was a bully and the other kid had had enough. The injury wasn't serious and the school expelled the kid who did the stabbing.
I never noticed either of these kids before the stabbing. Neither of them were in my classes. I didn't have cafeteria or study hall duties. But afterwards, you'd better believe I remembered the bully's face. He was still a loudmouth after the incident. Acted like it gave him 'street cred.' However, I remember seeing him with his mom on a parent conference night. She was gakked out of her head. Never saw someone so humiliated as that kid that night. Not trying to defend his bullying. He was a crappy kid. But I understood where his defense mechanism was coming from."
"I was working at the library running the computer lab for people to find jobs. A creepy guy came in and was acting weird, but not any more weird then some of the other people who came in. But my spidey senses were going off. He came back the next day and made a comment about how pretty I was. Weird, but again not unheard of. I ignored this and changed the subject.
I brought it up to my boyfriend that night and he gave the best advice ever. 'You're smart. Trust your instincts, and tell someone at work if he comes back.' I said yeah maybe, but didn't want to escalate things.
He came back on the third day and was sitting at the front row and leering at me. He mentioned again how I was pretty, then asked if I had a boyfriend. I said that was inappropriate and he needed to get back to submitting for employment. I sent an email to security essentially saying, 'Hey, I may be overreacting but this guy seems way weird and I don't know why.'
The weird guy got more aggressively flirty and I said he needed to stay professional or he'd be asked to leave. Not long after, the head of security showed up. He casually walked in and asked me to step outside quietly. He asked me how I was doing and if I wanted him to deal with the guy.
I'm trained in Krav Magra and am a staunch feminist who can stand up for herself, but, my boyfriend's advice rang in my ears and I had the heebies. And I said yes. Take over for a bit.
I made my way to the break room when I heard the creepy guy say something inaudible. Security replied with, 'Sir, if you'd like to stay, you need to stay professional.'
Suddenly, the creepy guy started screaming, 'It was that woman, wasn't it? I WILL STAB HER. I swear!'
Cue major scuffle, security running everywhere dragging him out of the building. I locked myself in the break room and lost my mind.
Security came back to console me smiled and said, 'Good news, we can now ban him for life, and if you see him immediately leave and lock yourself in the closest room. And you're having a guard walk with you to your car for the next week.'
I haven't worked there in several years but I still get creeped out thinking about it."