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Boom lift fatality

Two men have died after the boom lift they were using to dismantle a music festival stage overturned.

The two men were working for event design company GuildWorks and were removing guy ropes for a large canopy from trees after the Pickathon festival at Pendarvis Farm in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday evening. The were using an 85ft Genie S-85 boom lift - belonging to rental company Herc - and were operating it on an uneven grass slope and had elevated the retracted boom causing the machine too become ‘back heavy’ for the slope it was on, resulting in rearward overturn.
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courtesy Clackamas County Sheriff's Office
Statements from the emergency services said: “There were two people in the basket at the time the cherry picker tipped over. Tragically, both people were killed. The arborists had been ascending in a boom lift before climbing further up trees to get to ropes holding up the complex shade installation. They were wearing safety equipment and were roped to the boom lift, which was reportedly positioned on an incline.”

A public statement from the Pickathon event added: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of two members of the GuildWorks crew during breakdown of this year’s festival. Please join us in offering up prayers and support to their families and friends during this difficult time. All involved in Pickathon are like members of a family to us. We will wrap our collective arms around all affected and share in the grieving process.”

We will update this item if and when we learn more.

It seems that the two men named as Brad Swet, 35, of Foster Trees and Brandon Blackmore, 27, of GuildWorks had gone up in the boom lift and then climbed into the trees to reach the ropes that were holding a giant canopy. They remained attached to the booms with their lanyards. The combination of no weight in the platform, with the high boom elevation, retracted boom and slope caused the boom to tip rearwards pulling the two men from the trees and hurtling them to the ground.

A memorial fund has been established to help support the families of these two young people


Safety sensors were dissabled

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined, Pickathon and GuildWorks following an investigation into the fatal boom lift overturns.

OSHA’s investigation found that the slop sensor alarm and the secondary guarding devices on the machine had been disabled.

OSHA fined each company $12,500 for disabling the alarms and Guildworks an additional $6,000 for not following the instructions provided by the boom lift manufacturer, which included maintaining a firm footing on the platform’s floor at all times, not raising the lift while on an uneven surface, not moving the machine while the boom was extended and while it was on a slope, and not putting the lift in a raised position while the counterweight on a downward side of a slope.

The investigation also revealed that Pickathon and GuildWorks had a history of not following standard safety procedures.
OSHA administrator Michael Wood said: “It is an employer’s responsibility to make sure that safety rules are followed for the very purpose of protecting workers from such tragedies. This is a time to pause and remember that two people died, leaving behind family and friends. And it is a time to remind ourselves that this accident was entirely preventable.”

Pickathon Founder Zale Schoenborn added: “The tragic loss that the families of Brad and Brandon, Pickathon, Guildworks and the larger festival community suffered last year was absolutely heart breaking and continues to shake us to our core. We have always focused on safety with the same passion that we bring to producing the festival experience, and in our 21 year history, this was our first serious accident.”


Darlene Swet, the mother of Bradley Swet — one of two workers who died — filed the lawsuit against Pickathon, GuildWorks, Pendarvis Farms, Herc Rentals, Terex and Genie for over $37 million in compensation. The suit alleges Pickathon, Pendarvis Farms and GuildWorks were negligent in several instances including disabling two manufacturer installed safety alarms, failing to inspect and test the boom lift before each work shift and failing to provide adequate training to workers on operation of the boom lift.

It also alleges Herc, Terex and Genie were liable due to their role in manufacturing and distributing a “defective and unreasonably dangerous” product.


Auld Yin
Hmmm, no tilt alarm???? the amount of machines we get back in off hire that the tilt sensor has been defeated or the annoying tilt alarm has had a screwdriver or nail driven through it to shut it up.

Sep 19, 2019

I don’t mean ‘overkill’ by writing more about this accident but take note of the 4”x 4” post employed as wheel chocks on the second lift. We can’t see what wheel chocks were used on the flipped lift. We use triangular heavy molded rubber chocks 5-1/2” (14 cm) high. And when we are on a slope it is requisite to secure the lift to a stable tree, truck or heavy equipment. If it cannot be secured we are not going up. Safety first, safety always, no guesswork. A old German saying I learned in 1974: too soon old, too late smart.

Aug 13, 2019

For “the truth hurts”, your point is valid except they rented a lift with no outriggers. I surmise the angle they set the lift (front to back or lengthwise) with its centerline (of lift frame) was a-kilter to the slope centerline. As I shared this case with colleagues today they remarked about no supervision there determining the type of equipment to rent and how to set it correctly.

Aug 12, 2019

Tragic waste of life
But it has to be said S85s on grass I wonder if this was surveyed??

Aug 12, 2019

I regret the loss of two young workers. To save a repeat of this fatal accident suggests this Analysis by curiosity of the description and photo. Could the Genie base have been secured uphill to heavy trucks or trees with chokers or tree savers using tractor chain or heavy duty rope and to limit the basket weight to one worker rather than two? Better yet, utilize a tracked lift with outriggers and still for safety sake secure the base uphill?

Aug 11, 2019
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