Working for a city can be dangerous. The Colorado workers’ compensation system exists, however, to mitigate the consequences should a job-related injury occur. Plumbing and electrical systems, water treatment centers, waste collection equipment, sewers–all of these can pose real threats to city employees. In addition to these industrial dangers, city workers are often required to spend much of their time outdoors, exposed to potentially harmful natural forces such as hurricanes, flash floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and landslides. As one man recently found out, this also includes giant cactuses.
A water distribution technician with an out-of-state city’s utilities department was responding to an emergency water leak in a residential neighborhood. While working to repair the leak, a cactus weighing several thousand pounds, known as a saguaro, fell on him from a nearby property. The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States, capable of growing up to 60 feet tall. The man was unable to free himself from the cactus without the assistance of emergency medical personnel. After treatment for multiple injuries, including surgery to repair a broken back, the man is recovering in a local hospital’s intensive care unit. His wife reports that the doctors expect a full recovery.
Although an incident like this is unlikely to occur in Colorado because of its lack of giant cactuses, this horrific accident illustrates the importance of workers’ compensation. In this man’s case, it likely that his medical bills and lost wages will be provided for if he applies for the state benefits. In addition, it is the city’s responsibility to look after its employees and make sure they can do their work without risk of injury.
Source: Yuma Sun, “Injured city worker comes through surgery,” Joyce Lobeck, June 22, 2012