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Death Wish or clever application?

Sent in by a reader in the Netherlands, a Genie Z135/70 working 80 metres up on rails.

The lift is owned - we were told by someone who should know - by rental company Gunco (however it has now been suggested that it is owned by a Polish company, not that the ownership is critical to the story) and is being used on a steelwork application in Eemshaven, Holland.

The user has installed large steel I-Beams to serve as tracks between the steel work at a height reportedly of around 80 metres. Giving the machine a total working height of around 123 metres/400ft.
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A Genie Z135/70 around 80 metres up on the steel work

So is this a safe use or a Death Wish we were asked?

Well IF the concept has been fully engineered/calculated with EN280 safety margins, and the steering fixed or ideally the steer and drive disconnected - and the point of entry to the platform safe, then…… it is a fair use, even though it does not conform with the operator’s manual which says the unit must be used on firm level ground.

One wonders why they do not use something like the Niftylift Deck Rider which is designed and certified for this sort of application – it would clearly be a safer way of doing it.

What do you think?


Good Afternoon Mr Editor,

The National Identity of this MEWP is of no concern, the real issue here is the Dangerous Application to which this Genie Z.135 was applied. For to install and Operate an unsecured MEWP at an altitude of 80 Metres in this steelwork required a Large Crane and the active participation of Site Management.

This means that the Site Agent at Eemshaven must have given his express or implied approval for this unsafe system of work and by his act imperilled all those Men and Women working below and at Ground Level under this steelwork.

The Pre-fabricated steel platform in Yellow also shows intent on the part of someone to operate this MEWP in this unsafe manner, all of which is reliant upon Gravity and Low Wind Speeds 80 metres up.

Before the Main Contractor or his subbie writes in to say " But No-one was killed or Injured by this High level MEWP ". Then let me be the first to agree, No Fatalities at all. But not it must be said, through any effort on your part, because by your Act, you imperilled the lives of many Men below.

Eemshaven Safety Professionals will confirm that the correct approach is to Risk Assess all Hazards in advance, then produce a Plan ( Call it a Method Statement) that achieves the same objective, but does so by utilising 'Safe Systems of Work'. A VG example being a Clipped-On Harness with a Short Lanyard, so if a Man falls off the Steelwork at 80 metres, his Fall is arrested at 79 metres.

To summarise, we should all reduce On-Site Hazards to a level " As Low as Reasonably Practicable" for ALARP is your Best Friend and one day it may just save your life. Finally and in closing Safety is everyone's responsibility, not just yours and mine.

Kind Regards
Mike Ponsonby BA

Dec 23, 2012

Lukas Pawlicki

it's no problem! Location is Eemshaven but this Genie Z-135 is from polish rental company, not from Netherlands.

Dec 20, 2012

vertikal editor
We are surprised by the comment regarding this being Poland -

The source of the original report came from someone who was in a position to know when and where it was.

And in spite of very strong readership in the Netherlands this is the first comment to dispute the ownership and location of the machine.

Obviously the ownership and location changes little in the report but if anyone else can confirm or deny the ownership and location of this machine and job, we would appreciate hearing from you .

Dec 20, 2012

Lukas Pawlicki

this Genie is from Gizo rental (Poland), not from Gunco!

Dec 20, 2012

Good Morning Mr Editor,

Thank you for publishing this photo of an MEWP working at an elevation of 80 Metres or so above ground level, as this is yet another VG example of how working men lives are put at risk in the Workplace through no fault of their own.

In English Law, by any Standard that I know, this is an ' Unsafe System of Work' . Please allow me to explain why....

1. This Genie Z135 machine is not chained to the Structure itself and appears to be held in place solely by Gravity alone.

2. The Man working in the Basket of this MEWP would normally have his Harness clipped-on to the Machine itself. But in the event of an Incident, ( For this could never be said to be an Accident, as its not Accidental) then he would fall to his Death 80 metres or so below, along with his Machine.

3. To make matters worse, all of the Workers at Lower Levels on this Steelwork are also at risk, as are those working on the Ground below this structure. For an MEWP falling from this Height would kill all, irrespective of Seniority, Experience or Gender.

The Managing Director of this company should personally intervene ASAP, as this Dangerous Working Practice is being carried out in his name. Moreover, in the event of a Fatality in the UK this kind of Dangerous Working Practice could lead to all Directors being served with Criminal Charges under section 37 of HSW Act 1974 and his company being charged with Corporate Manslaughter under the 2007 Act of the same title. ( See HSE.v. Lion Steel Ltd. 2012)

This kind of dangerous working practice has killed far too many good men on the ground over the years and on Friday 15th January 1988, one of those innocent victims was my Father in Law David Stanford (d) killed at work as a result of an unsafe system of work. Finally and in closing, it is entirely 'Foreseeable' that Fatal Injury could result from an unsafe system of work, such as this. With Londons Court of Appeal now recognising the principle of 'Forseeability' in the Judgment arising from the failed Appeal case reported as R.v. Tangerine Confectionery Ltd & Veolia (UK) Ltd [2011] EWCA Criminal 2015.

Mr Editor please keep up your good work in reporting this kind of Dangerous Working practice, as 52 men and women were killed in the UK Construction Industry in 2011 and that is unacceptable. After all, we go to work to earn Money, not to be put at risk of being Killed in the workplace.

Kind Regards
Mike Ponsonby BA

Dec 17, 2012

In case the machine is de-calibrated, it is a huge risk to recalibrate it on those beams (just a direct example of what can go wrong). This is hust just an excuse for doing a cheaper work! Failing to explain it to the contractor is the first step in a long chain of potential life treatening events. Also, financially wise can prove worse for both parties.

Dec 16, 2012

Its going to be a tricky job topping up the fuel or doing the pre-use checks around the machine !

Dec 15, 2012