A friend of a friend was a builder working on the roof of a new multi-storey PFI hospital.
Reaching the end of the job with a large pile of bricks left over, he decided to lower them in a barrel attached to a pulley, and after loading up on the sixth floor duly descended to ground level to release the rope.
Inevitably, the 130lb builder shot skyward still clutching the rope as his 240lb load plummeted to earth, slowed only by a third-floor collision which fractured his skull and collarbone. Hitting the ground, the barrel lost its bottom and load. Counterbalanced only by its 50lb weight, the brickie started a rapid descent.
Half way down, barrel and builder met once again. The impact fractured both ankles, but fortunately slowed his fall sufficiently to ensure he suffered no further major injuries as he landed on the bricks. As he lay there looking at the barrel six floors up, he finally lost his composure and let go of the rope. . .
So it's an urban myth. But what better way of introducing Priority Healthcare Wearside's new Healthy Workplace site? A joint venture with Sunderland health authority, housing and health departments, and businesses, it offers an excellent guide to everything from employment policies to legal requirements.
The healthy workplace is, of course, one of the key settings identified in the Healthier Nation green paper - and fewer accidents is one of its targets. Other useful sources of information include the Health and Safety Executive, which helpfully publishes lots of statistical data online.
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health is also worth checking for courses, though the commercial Health and Safety Homepages has more information, and OSHweb is the better gateway to only sources. And the builder?
He's fine, but funnily enough has decided to give up abseiling.