Don’t you just hate that seemingly never-ending stream of adverts that constantly ask, "Have you had an accident in the workplace that wasn’t your fault? If so call us today." It can make you wonder just how many idiots are stubbing their toe on the printing machine or twisting their ankle on the shiny office floor. However, every now and then we hear about a workplace mishap so gruesome and grisly that no lawyer in the world could provide adequate compensation for. Death and disfigurement are not what any of us have in mind on a Sunday evening when we’re dreading waking up for work the next morning. Of course, for some unfortunate few that is exactly what an ordinary, dull working day ended up as. Keep reading for the top 5 toe-curlingly horrific workplace accidents in history.
See also: Top 10 Funniest Workplace Accidents
5. Peeled penis
Edgardo Toucet Echevarria, a temp worker from Puerto Rico was really thrown in the deep end when he first started his temporary job as a peeler at Future Foam. Despite not being able to speak or read a word of English, Edgardo was put straight on to the peeling machine. The purpose of this monstrous mechanism was to remove the rough edges from strips of carpet; it did so by whirring its deadly sharp blades at a furious speed. Getting nervous about where this is going? You should be. It goes without saying that this was quite a daunting task for Edgardo who had no experience whatsoever with such a machine and was unable to spot the fact that the safety guard had been removed. During the process of using the machine, something went horrendously wrong and the worker had his entire penis and testicles severed by the sharp, spinning blades of the peeler. Echevarria survived the accident and got away with a severely mutilated member. He filed a lawsuit shortly afterwards, claiming compensation for a dramatic loss in the capacity to enjoy life.
4. Killer robot
We’ve all heard of murder mysteries where it turned out that a disgruntled coworker was the responsible culprit. But what about when the killer colleague is a robot? In 1979, 25 year old Robert Williams was working as an assembly line work worker at a Ford Motor factory in Flat Rock, Michigan. Robert went to retrieve parts from the same spot in the storage facility where the robot was working. The mechanical monster slammed him with such brute force that he was killed instantly. As if being the only ever human victim of ’death by robot’ on record wasn’t already the stuff that sci-fi nightmares are made of, an extra eerie element to this tale is the fact that he was killed on the 58th anniversary of the opening of the play which first coined the term ’robot’. Karel Capek invented the word for his futuristic play Rossum’s Universal Robots.
3. Scalped in the factory
Did you ever have a fight in primary school that resulted in a bit of hair pulling? Maybe just the memory of your mum combing your hair too hard as a child brings tears to your eyes. If the intense pain of having your hair pulled makes you cringe, then spare a thought for the 14 year old girl in 1933 who worked full time in a box factory. The teen was on her usual shift, scrubbing the floor on her hands and knees when her long ponytail got caught up in the mechanism of a whirring shaft. The machine kept on revolving at high speed, with the girl caught up in it and then proceeded to drop her to the ground, all of her that is, apart from her scalp and long locks. After being rushed to hospital, the unfortunate victim received medical care and doctors attempted to return her hair to her head, however, the medical notes from the day say that "the scalp arrived half an hour later and was too large and dirty to be sutured on." The girl later received a skin graft and lived the rest of her life wearing a wig. The scalp itself was perfectly preserved and today lives in a jar alongside thousands of other morbid curiosities which can be seen at Barts Pathology Museum in London.
2. Unbreakable window
Garry Hoy was a successful lawyer at Holden Day Wilson law firm in Toronto, Canada. He was exceptionally proud of the high quality glass in his 24th story office in the Toronto Dominion Centre and would regularly launch himself against at full velocity to prove to colleagues and visitors that the glass was completely unbreakable. Every time Garry had performed this stunt he had bounced back off of the glass to the amusement of his impressed audience. This is exactly what happened in 1993 during a boardroom meeting, however as we was not content with this stunt on the first try, Mr Hoy tragically decided to give it a second go. This time around, he was proved right as not one shard of glass was cracked, unfortunately the entire window pane popped straight out of its frame, plunging itself and the unlucky lawyer down 24 floors down to the street below. This fatal plunge has been the subject of documentaries and adapted for fiction since and will perhaps be remembered as the most unfortunate workplace accident.
1. Death by meat grinder
Death by meat grinder might sound like something that exists only in bad horror films, but tragically for Hugo Avalos Chanon in 2013, this horrifying demise was all too real. Hugo was working as part of a sanitation crew at a meat packing factory in Oregon when something went really, really wrong. It has never been established whether the machine Hugo was cleaning was meant to be switched on or whether it was accidently started during the cleaning process. Whatever might be the case, it did happen. Brace yourself for one of the most disturbing deaths you’ve ever heard of: as Hugo fell headfirst into the running machine. The job of this industrial grinder was to separate the excess fat from ground beef. His fellow worker rushed to his aid and tried desperately to switch the machine off and pull Hugo from it, but it was sadly too late. He died from crushing and chopping injuries and will go down in history as one of the worst workplace accidents to have ever take place.
So there you have it. The five most horrifying events which have happened to people in their work environments. No doubt when you next walk into work you will take extra care to watch your every step and hold on to your seat tightly, that is, if some of these grisly tales haven’t scarred you into never leaving the house again. Although these stories are all far too true and happened to real people, they are, of course, a real rarity. Short of wrapping ourselves in bubble wrap and rolling to and from work, there is very little we can do to guarantee that we will steer clear of these once in a million freak occurrences. So let’s learn from these accidents and keep going, just try not to run and jump into any sky scraper windows and always make sure that the safety guards are on your industrial strength meat grinder.