Earlier this week a rental company operator was put under pressure to operate a truck mounted platform outside of its safe working limits on a TV/film set.
The request was virtually identical to one that resulted in a serious incident just three weeks ago, when a Blade Access truck mounted lift overturned on set. On this latest occasion, which occurred on Tuesday, the operator avoided such an incident.
Blade Access had provided the truck mounted platform in question with an operator for a TV/film set in the UK. After the operator had set up the machine, a film set rigger working for the end client installed a scaffold staging lighting unit to the platform. The operator then proceeded to undertake a secondary working envelope test. When the platform reached its maximum height/outreach for the load in the platform, the audible alarm sounded to advise the platform had reached its working envelope limit and was about to lock out. The operator was then involved in the following conversation:
Rigger: “Can it go higher?”
Operator: “That’s as high as it will go.”
Rigger: “It shouldn’t be bleeping, there isn’t 300kg in the basket.”
Operator: “It’s bleeping because its reaching its limit with that weight in the basket.”
Rigger: “The equipment only weighs about the same as me, so it should go higher.”
Operator: “If it’s bleeping, it’s bleeping for a reason. The working envelope of the platform will adjust depending on the weight being lifted.”
Rigger: “Can you use your ‘emergencies’ to go higher?”
Operator: “No, our ‘emergencies’ are just for coming down and can only be used to recover the platform when normal operation is lost.”
Rigger: “It’s only 70kg of weight and the platform can lift 300kg, other people use the ‘emergencies’ to take it higher.”
Operator: “Our company policy is that the ‘emergencies’ are only used to lower the platform and cannot be used to extend it in a normal working situation.”
Commenting on the incident, Blade Access managing director, Mark Bell, said: “Since the overturn incident earlier this month, we have further developed our internal training programmes with extended emphasis on emergency control systems, their permitted use and working environment influences/pressures. Already, it would now appear that this additional training has proven to be invaluable. In as little as three weeks, another of our operators was faced with exactly the same situation when attending another TV/film shoot on location.”
“Immediately after our operator’s discussion with the rigger, he followed company procedure and reported what we consider to be a ‘Near Miss’ to our central operations team who then assumed control of the situation. After further discussions with site personnel, the platform was lowered back to ground level and one of the lights were removed enabling the platform to then reach the clients target area.”
“While we are pleased that our extended operator training programme has completely proven its worth, it is equally important to note that given the riggers comments on site, the practice of using access platforms outside of their designed safe working envelope may be much more common than people believe. Hopefully this case will raise further awareness to all owners/operators within our industry as it is vital that we collectively challenge this mindless behaviour of those that clearly have a complete disregard for human life, or the platforms we supply, before it’s fatally too late.”