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Utility Workers Fatally Injured in Bourne, MA Crane Accident

Two Massachusetts utility workers were the victims of a tragic fatal crane accident this weekend in Bourne, Massachusetts.

The men, who were contracted by NStar, were working 150 feet in the air on electricity lines near the Scenic Highway when their boom truck collapsed. The men were killed on impact.

Officials are still unsure how and why this could have happened, and the incident is now under investigation by OSHA.

AERIAL LIFT ACCIDENTS

An aerial lift is any vehicle-mounted device that is used to elevate personnel, including:

• Aerial ladders • Extendable boom platforms • Articulating boom platforms • Vertical towers
Due to their mobility and flexibility, aerial lifts often replace scaffolding and ladders on certain job sites. They may be made of metal, fiberglass, plastic, or a combination of materials, and can be powered or manually operated. As exemplified by this unfortunate instance, aerial lift and crane workers risk sustaining serious and life-threatening injuries because of the substantial heights at which they are working.

The most common types of work accidents associated with aerial lifts include:

• Falls from an elevated level • Objects falling from lifts • Ejections from lift platform • Tip-overs • Structural failure • Electrocutions/electrical shocks • Entanglement hazards • Contact with objects • Contact with ceiling or overhead object
To prevent these types of accidents workers should 1.) Have the proper training on how to operate the aerial lift machinery correctly 2.) Be trained on how to prevent falls 3.) Know the proper inspection procedures and what to do before operating the machinery.

While operating an aerial lift, workers should:

• Ensure that access gates and openings are closed • Stand firmly on the floor of the bucket lift • Not climb or lean over the handrails or guardrails • Not use planks, ladders, or other devices as a working position • Use a safety harness, or restraining belt with a lanyard attached to the boom or bucket • Not exceed the load capacity limits-Workers need to take the weight of the workers, tools, and other materials into account when calculating the load • Not use the aerial lift as a crane • Not carry objects larger than the platform • Not exceed the horizontal or vertical reach limits • Not override electrical, hydraulic, or mechanical safety devices • Be aware of overhead clearance, and potential overhead objects
In addition, prior to operating the aerial lift workers should check:

Vehicle components including:

• Fluid levels (oil, hydraulic, fuel, coolant)
• Leaks of fluids • Wheels and tires • Lower-level controls and safety alarms • Steering controls • Personnel protective devices • Cable and wiring harnesses • Outriggers, stabilizers and other structures • Loose or missing parts • Guardrail systems
Work zone hazards
Employers must ensure that work zones are inspected for any potential hazards and take corrective action to eliminate such hazards prior to operating an aerial lift. Items to look for include:

• Do not position aerial lifts between overhead over-head hazards if possible • Treat all power lines and communication lines as energized and stay at minimum, 10 feet away • Ensure that all power utility and power line workers de-energize power lines in the vicinity of work • Set outriggers on pads, or on a level and solid surface • Set brakes when outriggers are being used • Use wheel chocks when on an uneven or sloped surface • Set up work zone warnings, such as cones and signs to warn others

While this accident is still under investigation, it is important to bring light to the seriousness of the hazards faced by construction and utility workers. Whether it was an error on behalf of the workers that caused the crane to abruptly tip over or a mechanical defect with the boom truck, the fact remains that employers bear the responsibility of ensuring that their employees are properly trained, and that all vehicles and machinery are working properly. In addition, third parties like the vehicle manufacturer share responsibility if it is found that there was a defect with the truck that ultimately caused the accident.

Original article by Boston.com

For more information on aerial lift safety visit OSHA.gov

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