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Safety at Work - tasks

Click here for song text

The Sick Note

Dear Sir I write this note to you to tell you of my plight
For at the time of writing I am not a pretty sight
My body is all black and blue, my face a deathly grey
And I write this note to say why Paddy's not at work today.

Whilst working on the fourteenth floor,some bricks I had to clear
To throw them down from such a height was not a good idea
The foreman wasn't very pleased, the bloody awkward sod
He said I had to cart them down the ladders in my hod.

Now clearing all these bricks by hand, it was so very slow
So I hoisted up a barrel and secured the rope below
But in my haste to do the job, I was too blind to see
That a barrel full of building bricks was heavier than me.

And so when I untied the rope, the barrel fell like lead
And clinging tightly to the rope I started up instead
I shot up like a rocket till to my dismay I found
That half way up I met the bloody barrel coming down.

Well the barrel broke my shoulder, as to the ground it sped
And when I reached the top I banged the pulley with my head
I clung on tightly, numb with shock, from this almighty blow
And the barrel spilled out half the bricks, fourteen floors below.

Now when these bricks had fallen from the barrel to the floor
I then outweighed the barrel and so started down once more
Still clinging tightly to the rope, my body racked with pain
When half way down, I met the bloody barrel once again.

The force of this collision, half way up the office block
Caused multiple abrasions and a nasty state of shock
Still clinging tightly to the rope I fell towards the ground
And I landed on the broken bricks the barrel scattered round.

I lay there groaning on the ground I thought I'd passed the worst
But the barrel hit the pulley wheel, and then the bottom burst
A shower of bricks rained down on me, I hadn't got a hope
As I lay there bleeding on the ground, I let go the bloody rope.

The barrel then being heavier then started down once more
And landed right across me as I lay upon the floor
It broke three ribs, and my left arm, and I can only say
That I hope you'll understand why Paddy's not at work today.


  1. What was Paddy’s trade?
  2. Where was he working?
  3. What job did the foreman ask him to do?
  4. What went wrong?
  5. Make a list of all the injuries mentioned in the song.
  1. He was a bricklayer.
  2. He was working on an office block.
  3. The foreman asked him to clear up some bricks and carry them from the fourteenth floor down to the ground.
  4. He did not want to carry the bricks because it would take a long time, so he tried to lower them down in a barrel, but did not plan the job very well. In consequence, he received many injuries.
  5. Broken shoulder, banged head, shock, multiple abrasions, broke three ribs, broken left arm. He was also bleeding and later black and blue.


Verbs in the Present and Past Tense

  1. Find all the verbs in the song text which are in the simple past tense (see link above).
  2. Rewrite the following sentences in the past tense. (Click on this link for help with the past tense of Irregular Verbs.)
  • He falls down the stairs and breaks his leg.
  • The bricks spill out and hit my head.
  • When we play golf, he hits the ball so hard that it lands far beyond the hole and we never find it again.
  • I meet my friends often at a restaurant in town.
  • I am on holiday this week and I lie on the beach every day.
  • The foreman thinks I am a fool.
  • When I say I am going to leave, she clings to me and cries.
  • He causes accidents because he is careless.
  • He fell down the stairs and broke his leg.
  • The bricks spilled out and hit my head.
  • When we played golf, he hit the ball so hard that it landed far beyond the hole and we never found it again.
  • I met my friends often at a restaurant in town.
  • I was on holiday last week and I lay on the beach every day.
  • The foreman thought I was a fool.
  • When I said I was going to leave, she clung to me and cried.
  • He caused accidents because he was careless.


  1. In pairs. Take turns at telling each other in your own words exactly what happened to the bricklayer in the song.
  2. In pairs. The bricklayer rings his boss to tell him why he won’t be at work. Carry out the conversation between them. The boss should make suitable comments.
  3. In pairs. Roleplay a telephone conversation between an employee (or his partner or mother) and the employer, explaining why the employee will not be at work today.


  1. Write a report to your boss about an accident at work (where, what happened, why). How to Write a Work Report.
  2. Write a letter or an e-mail to a friend refusing an invitation because you have had an accident. Explain what happened.
  3. Write a “creative” sick note to your teacher or employer.

You will find some creative excuses at these addresses:

Learning content

Safety at Work




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