09.10.2021

Truck mount overturn

A truck mounted lift overturned in Chingford, Essex in the UK on Tuesday. The Palfinger P480 had been rehired from the Blade Access fleet for a film set on location and was being used with a lighting rig set up and operated from the lower controls when it went over. Thankfully no one was hurt in the incident.

This is at least the third such incident with a P480 when used on this type of application. At least one of the previous incidents was due to overloading, which was the case with this one. Blade has issued the following statement which explains what happened in full.

“On the evening of Tuesday 5th October at 21:15hrs, one of the Palfinger P480’s from the Blade Access UK rental fleet was involved in an accident while in operation on a media location site in London. The platform was being operated by a direct employee of Blade Access who has to date completed in excess of two and half years’ service with the business without any previous incidents. All training requirements for the Operator, both external and internal, are completed and up to date. The platform itself was manufactured in 2017 and in sound working order. It had passed its latest LOLER Inspection without any identified defects.

The platform was rehired by another powered access rental company, and it can be confirmed that all pre-use checks and internal remote site audit work flows were satisfactorily completed and documented/submitted and approved prior to commencement of the hire at 15:00hrs.

During the hire, the platform was operated from both the work cage and ground control systems without issue. At approximately six hours into the hire, the end client began to advise our Operator that the lighting for the shoot wasn’t quite right and several requests were made for the Operator to extend the platform a few meters further by lowering the extended boom.

Although the Operator advised that the platform was already working on its maximum permissible limits, it appears additional pressure was put on to the Operator to make it happen. It is at this stage that the Operator succumbed to site persuasion and decided to then switch the platform in to ‘Emergency Mode’. He then proceeded to lower the main boom section taking the unit out of its safe working envelope. The platform then passed its tipping point and lost stability. Fortunately, no personnel were in the platform when the accident occurred and no persons on the ground were injured. While the Operator himself initially suffered from shock and was subsequently admitted to hospital, he was thankfully later released in the early hours.

This accident is a clear case of human error and whilst the Operator had completed both generic and platform specific documented training in relation to Emergency Systems, a decision he chose to make made has ultimately compromised the stability of the platform. While this is not the first accident to be caused as a result of a platform being worked outside of its intended parameters, it still provides a stark reminder to all who operate such equipment why Emergency Systems should only ever be used for their intended purpose in any circumstance.

Behavioural psychology can clearly play its part in accidents and Blade Access will certainly be investigating how the business can support our Operators further at any time of day when challenging or pressurised situations arise as in this case.”


Vertikal Comment

Blade’s reaction to our enquiries regarding this incident should be roundly applauded. It is precisely the reaction, or rather attitude, that should take place when such incidents happen. Sadly, this is rarely the case. I have seen first-hand how some large contractors - who produce pages and pages of fine words on how important safety and their people are to them, and who are quick take the stage to collect a fancy safety award, while being guilty of applying pressure to equipment operators on site, to push their machines beyond the limits and then try to suppress any information on what happened when a near miss occurs.

All too often when we ask companies for a statement following numerous reports of an incident, their first reaction is “where did get this information from, who sent you the photograph?” Catching the ‘whistle blower’ being more important that helping make the industry safer. A few rental companies are also guilty of this practice.

Thankfully they are not all like that. Perhaps safety authorities could help by adding additional penalties on those who try to supress information, while being more lenient on those who are open and clearly interested in helping others avoid making a similar operating error?

Rental company owners can also make a difference by insisting and encouraging their operators to report all attempts by clients or site staff to coerce them into pushing their machine beyond its safe limits, as occurred in this case. Companies should then take these reports up with the client’s senior management, possibly putting them on record.

Hopefully Blade’s report will serve widely as training material and a warning to what can happen in such circumstances.

Lastly, I wonder who feels worse tonight - the platform’s operator, or those that pushed him to “go the extra mile”?

Comments

Whistle-blower
I have worked alongside some of these operators and most of them are good at their jobs the rest are shocking and so is the company as a hole the machines alway break down and leave you stranded in the basket when the hydraulic pipes burst and they have just had its inspection
The majority of the pressure comes from blade access itself the operator was probably working up in Scotland before this job and then is expected drive straight to the next job with very little of sleep

Oct 23, 2021

o
Good Afternoon Gentlemen,

Bang on correct Mr STK9999, as all MEWP and AWP Machines should indeed be treated as Cranes because they all lift off the Ground and as such are subject to The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regs 1998.

So Regulations 4 5 and 6 should be known to all MEWP and AWP Employers as these are directly applicable to the Safe systems of Work for all Lifting Operations 24/7.

Because having researched 1061 Crane Incidents causing 594 Fatalities worldwide since 070507 my 14 yr database confirms yet again that Worker Safety is important very important and much too important to leave it to chance.

I trust you would agree Raf and Woodie ?

Kind Regards
Mike Ponsonby

PS. John, The LOLER Regulations are Statutory Instrument number 2307 of 1998.

Oct 19, 2021

SKT9999
MEWPS should be treated exactly the same as cranes (considering some are used with winches to lift) more often than not operators turn up to site and the hirer just expects the operator to virtually plan the works then look to blame them when they either can’t do what’s expected or worse still have an accident “Plan & Supervise”

Oct 18, 2021

o
Good Morning Gentlemen,

Well said, very well said Mr Morris, as those Workplace Bullies who use Threats and
Intimidation to encourage Operators to Misuse the OverRide Key are I suspect the very same Bullies who hit the thumbs down below right in a misguided attempt to dissuade us from exposing this potentially fatal behaviour above.

Once walked into the Canteen to witness a tall 35yr old Service Manager
Beating a 16yr Old Apprentice with his Fists and Boots.When the Apprentice
recovered from this Criminal Assault, I encouraged him to make a FormalComplaint to the Area Director, with me as Witness. The Area Director promptly delegated this investigation to the Area Service Manager who promptly swept it under the carpet.Thus leaving the young Apprentice with No option but to resign and seek employment elsewhere.

So your point is well made Mr Morris as I suspect these are indeed the very same Bullies Who use Threats and Intimidation to OverRide Safety Systems. Then when the Machine overturns, just like the scenario above then Deny all knowledge of it and attempt to Discredit the Operator.

Kind Regards
Mike Ponsonby

PS. This excellent Report by Blade Access above is commendable and shows a
Genuine commitment to worker safety to be adopted by all in Crane Industry.

Oct 11, 2021

Sherm
If I were the equipment operator in this circumstance I would have mitigated the risk and told the client, “What part of NO don’t you understand?”

Oct 11, 2021

Red
Well said Mr. Morris.

The thumbs down probably came from the bullies who coerced the operator into disaster.

Oct 10, 2021

Kevin Morris
Would the people who give a thumbs down (which they are entitled too) care to say why please?

Oct 9, 2021

Kevin Morris
The wording below truly disturbs me. It is about time that the ultimate authority on how the machine is operated is brought into line as how we utilise best practice BS:7121 for lifting operations. Trained and competent personnel must have overall control, who also have the overall authority to say NO, and NOT be overruled by bullies and yes men!
"Although the Operator advised that the platform was already working on its maximum permissible limits, it appears additional pressure was put on to the Operator to make it happen. It is at this stage that the Operator succumbed to site persuasion and decided to then switch the platform in to ‘Emergency Mode’."

Oct 9, 2021
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