2 workers killed in Boom lift accident at Pickathon

Van

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See story below.
No 'Inside' information and I still have no idea if it's anyone I know. Apparently two Arborists were ascending in a boom then climbing further up trees to release shade awnings during the out. Apparently the boom was on an incline, sideways. They were clipped to the basket. when they crawled out and their weight was removed the boom flipped taking them with it and catapulting them to the ground.

https://www.wweek.com/news/2019/08/08/two-people-killed-this-afternoon-while-taking-down-the-pickathon-stage/
 
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MNicolai

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Hard to tell how far from level the terrain is in the photo but interesting that one lift was oriented up the slope with wheel stops and the other lift appears to have been across the slope, presumably without stops.

Wonder if the wheels were on soft ground that contributed to the problem or if the lift just rolled on its own.


 
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Van

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I have never been sure I would want to be tethered to lift.
Most of the time it is the safe option. Crawling out of the lift, at height is always an issue.

One of the causes may have been the 'jumping' out of the lift. IF one of them hopped it might have transferred enough energy to the boom to help it flip.
 
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TimMc

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Most of the time it is the safe option. Crawling out of the lift, at height is always an issue.

One of the causes may have been the 'jumping' out of the lift. IF one of them hopped it might have transferred enough energy to the boom to help it flip.
Either way, jumping or just leaving the basket... indicates to me that the only thing keeping the lift ballasted was the cargo (people). I think we can make a case that such is de facto improper operation. Ditto for soil looseness/compression/wetness; if the soil was unstable or unable to support the load the operator shouldn't have taken the lift there. The wheel chocks in the picture were, I'd bet, added prior to investigators arriving or pictures taken.

Sometimes workers have to say "f^@% NO*, risk getting fired and go home knowing he/she/they didn't leave widow(er)s and family behind.

NOBODY should die for someone else's good time. Hell, you shouldn't die for your own good time, either.
 

BillConnerFASTC

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They left the lift to climb the tree but stayed harnessed to lift? Something is a little unclear. Hard to imagine the workers exiting the lift was the cause of the tipping. Very unusual situation.
 

FMEng

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Having climbed a few radio towers, I've learned that the proper procedure is to always be tied off to something, which requires two lanyards. It could be that they were in the process of getting attached to the tree before unhooking from the lft.

That's a 38,000 pound machine. The basket, when boomed in, has a 1,000 pound capacity, and a 500 pound capacity fully extended horizontally. That machine didn't tip over without the soil shifting under the wheels. At the very least, there should have been a person on the ground watching for instability. It can look OK at the start of going up, but the added forces from moving the boom can cause wheels to sink unexpectedly. Approaching a tree, the operator's attention is not on what's happening below.

It's also possible that they tried to move the lift with the boom up. It's very tempting to do, but not a good idea. Doing anything in a hurry with a lift leads to accidents.
 

mbrown3039

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See story below.
No 'Inside' information and I still have no idea if it's anyone I know. Apparently two Arborists were ascending in a boom then climbing further up trees to release shade awnings during the out. Apparently the boom was on an incline, sideways. They were clipped to the basket. when they crawled out and their weight was removed the boom flipped taking them with it and catapulting them to the ground.

https://www.wweek.com/news/2019/08/08/two-people-killed-this-afternoon-while-taking-down-the-pickathon-stage/

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the families of the two workers who died. Here's more on that: https://www.gofundme.com/f/brad-swet-and-brandon-blackmore-memorial-fund
 
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Van

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egilson1

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Just a guess here, but it looks like they didn’t follow proper pfas procedures for transferring from the lift. When you climb out of the basket you’re supposed to be attached to the structure and not the MEWP.
 
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Van

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Interesting looking at the photo, assuming the boom wasn't moved, the boom arm wasn't extended.
Reading the story, I assumed they had to leave the basket because they couldn't reach, but if the boom wasn't extended at all, I wonder why they couldn't easily reach.
As I understand it. They were in the basket. They raised up as high as they could get on the tree. They had to exit the basket to climb up to where the canopy was tied on to the tree. They could not take the basket all the way up to the rig point because of limbs in the way. Basically if they had climbed up from the ground non of this would have happened.
 
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BillConnerFASTC

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Now I wonder if they tipped it by the basket caught under a limb, and they tried to raise it. Wouldn't that be likely to raise one side, or would automatic controls shut it down? Might it have been enough to start the ground compressing?

Just don't know enough to know.
 

Van

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Looking at the picture. The tree is to the Left, out of the frame. Look at the road in back. It's deceptive but I believe it's about 12-14" higher in elevation than the grass. I think two wheels were on the grass and two were on the road. They didn't come under a limb they were getting out of the basket. I believe that machine was out of balance but it didn't get there completely until they got out. I'll have a better idea after this weekend. I'm working with someone this weekend who is a hand out at Pick-a-thon every year they should be able to shed some light on this.
 

Smatticus

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The GoFundMe page reads; "They were in the process of repositioning the lift to reach the next set of ropes in the trees when the accident happened." If accurate, it contradicts the idea that they were not in the basket, or were in the process of leaving the basket, when the accident happened. Sounds like they may have just been in the basket and moving the lift.
 
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MNicolai

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@Smatticus, that makes the most sense to me, as evidenced by the many boom lift videos on YouTube where someone gets catapulted moving a boom lift over a seemingly innocuous uneven surface.

The wording of the official police statement that they "had been in the lift before climbing the tree" didn't sound definitively like they were actually climbing the tree(s) when it happened.