A contractor working on an electrical transmission substation upgrade in the UK has issued a safety bulletin following a structural failure on a heavy duty 82ft scissor lift last week.
The incident occurred at the Bicker Fen Converter Station on the Viking Link Project for the National Grid. Four men were working from the platform at a height of around five metres installing cladding to the inner blast wall, when the platform dropped and descended under gravity as oil poured out from the lift cylinder.
Two of the men sustained minor injuries, one to his ribs and the other a possible knee ligament injury. Both were taken to hospital by ambulance for assessment.
It appears that the scissor lift’s chassis broke its back, whether this was the cause of the failure or it occurred as a result of the sudden descent has yet to be determined. The lift is an 82ft Holland Lift 250Dl27 from the Riwal fleet, with a working height of 27 metres and a capacity of 1,000kg on its 6.15 metre platform.
The contractor, Siemens Energy, has called for all models of this type to be withdrawn from service and subjected to a full formal inspection and calls on staff to check that all of the required six monthly inspections have been carried out.
A statement from Riwal said: “Due to the fact that this is an ongoing investigation, we can't share any further details at this point in time. At the time of this statement, no major injuries have been confirmed.
Safety is the fundamental value of Riwal and we have taken decisive steps to assess all machines on the UK fleet of the same model. I can confirm that these additional inspections have taken place now and all units have passed.
We can also confirm the machine in question complies with all local (UK) compliance with a valid LOLER (Thorough Examination) at the time of the incident.”
Holland Lift managing director Chris Kochheim said: “Let me start by saying that our thoughts are with the people who were operating the machine at the time the incident occurred. Fortunately, the injuries seem to be minor, but every injury is one too many. We wish them a speedy recovery.”
“For your information, we have sent out a notice to our contacts, of which a short version is listed below:”
Subject: Safety notice Holland Lift Scissor Lift M-250 product line
Recently, we have been informed about an incident which involved a Holland Lift M-250 machine which was manufactured more than 10 years ago. A first preliminary analysis of the facts points to a situation where a crack in a chassis plate has propagated for some time resulting ultimately in the rupture of this plate. Since the launch of this model, over 250 units have been produced and this is the first time we have to investigate this structural failure.
Even though Holland Lift will conduct further in-depth investigations on this machine itself to determine the root cause conclusively, we are now informing customers and are providing an inspection instruction. If required, Holland lift will come with a further recommendation after the outcome of this analysis is available.Holland Lift will contact fleet owners with further information.
In addition to the regular inspection instructions, Holland Lift requires that a thorough inspection will have to be carried out on all scissor lifts of the afore mentioned scissor lift type.
There is possibly a question here whether this safety alert fully meets the safety alert protocol as published by IPAF and the UK Strategic Forum which includes the major contractors. While there was clearly a serious failure, the exact cause has yet to be determined.
However, it does at the very least warn owners and users to inspect the chassis and lift cylinder attachment points of any such machines that they own, checking for free movement of the cylinder pivot points and scissor arms and the presence of any cracks or signs of stress in the structural components - but that applies to all scissor lifts all of the time. Incidents such as this highlight the importance of proper daily inspections as well as the formal six month inspections, even in areas where this is not a legal requirement. Click here to see the IPAF statement on issuing safety alerts and to download the agreed protocol
Thankfully everyone got to go home at the end of the day and the damage appears to be limited to the machine itself.