Oregon OSHA has issued $31,000 in fines against two companies for safety violations following an investigation of a boom lift accident that killed two workers at the site of the Pickathon Music Festival in Happy Valley.
The division’s investigation of the Aug. 8, 2019, accident found Pickathon LLC and GuildWorks LLC – a subcontractor to Pickathon LLC – failed to follow safety rules governing the operation of a boom lift. Those rules included keeping safety alarm devices activated and heeding the manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions for the machine.
“It is an employer’s responsibility to make sure that safety rules are followed for the very purpose of protecting workers from such tragedies,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “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.”
The two workers – positioned in the platform of a boom lift raised about 40 feet high – were performing tasks after the music festival had ended. They were dismantling event-related hardware and ropes attached to trees when the boom lift tipped over, crashing to the ground and killing them.
Oregon OSHA cited both Pickathon and GuildWorks for a serious violation because two alarm devices on the boom lift had been disabled. One device would sound an alarm warning against operating the machine on uneven terrain. The other device would stop the upward motion of the platform if an employee became pinned between an overhead obstruction and the platform’s railing and controls.
That serious violation carries a $12,500 penalty for each of the companies.
Additionally, Oregon OSHA fined GuildWorks $6,000 for another serious violation: failing to follow the boom lift manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions.
Those instructions included not raising the boom while on an uneven surface; maintaining a firm footing on the platform’s floor at all times; not moving the machine while the boom was extended and while the machine was stationed on a sloped surface; and not putting the boom in a raised position while the counterweight – which acts as a balance – is located on the downward side of a slope.
Using its discretionary penalty authority, Oregon OSHA determined that the companies will not receive the normal reduction in the penalty granted to small employers. This decision is based on the particular facts uncovered by the division’s investigation, which revealed a history of failing to follow proper safety procedures.