Tragedy On University of Portland Campus Highlights Need for Adequate Crane Pads

crane padsThe accidental death of a human being is always tragic. However, those accidental deaths that would have been otherwise preventable with some simple measures are particularly tough to swallow. Unfortunately, even the smallest of issues can have a huge impact when it comes to equipment like crane lifts — especially when it comes to the condition, use, and overall integrity of things like crane pads/ground protection mats.

A recent real life example from the West Coast highlights the tragic effects of inadequate outrigger pads. According toThe Oregonian, Thomas Charles “TC” Smith Jr., a 55-year-old co-owner of the company ShowDrape, was hired by the University of Portland to help with work and setup of the Chiles Center arena.

Smith was using a Genie Personal Lift machine, which was provided by the university, to get to the speakers and lights hanging above the center’s stage on September 22, 2014. As he was teetering high above the ground, the lift eventually tipped over. He crashed into the ground below, hitting his head in the process. A little over three months later, Smith was pronounced dead as the result of his injuries.

This piece of news popped back up recently, because Smith’s family just filed a $13.3 million lawsuit against the university and lift manufacturer last month. At the crux of the family’s argument is the fact that not only was the lift 30-years-old and in “poor” repair, it was also provided without any outrigger pads, or crane pads for support.

Experts in the industry should know that there are three factors to consider when selecting an outrigger pad: ground conditions, size of outrigger foot, and outrigger load of the equipment.

While this sort of accident is horrific to imagine, it’s unfortunately not entirely uncommon. On average, one in every 10,000 hours of crane use results in an “upset” of some kind. There was an average of about 82 crane-related fatalities a year between 1997 and 2006, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Because of this, OSHA has particular rules and regulations regarding crane pads usage. At DICA, we strive to go above and beyond when it comes to safety, which is why we offer top-of-the-line crane pads and outrigger supports.

Don’t let a couple of extra dollars prevent you from investing in the quality products you need to keep you and your workers safe on the job. Let this be an example to learn from, not repeat.