Equipment involved in the accident was a Genie S-60 boom-supported elevating work platform (manlift) manufactured by Genie Industries. This manlift machine consisted of a self-propelled, four-wheel drive chassis, rotating turntable, and telescoping boom which supported a rotating and self-leveling work platform at its end. The manlift was mounted on air-filled rubber tires and was not equipped with outriggers. The work platform could extend to a maximum height of 60 feet and had a maximum horizontal reach of 51 feet, 9 inches. The wheel base was 8 feet and the wheel spacing was 6 feet. The manlift was equipped with oscillating axle lockout wedges which prevented oscillation when the boom was extended. These wedges were fail-safe and default to an extended position.
On the day of the manlift overturn accident, Joseph Richardson (victim), along with four co-workers, Billy Hines, McClain Caushy, and Dennis Klein, all maintenance mechanics, and Steven Pridgen, crane operator received a telephone call from their supervisor, Dennis Carlise, at about 3:30 a.m.. They were told that a conveyor belt had pulled apart, and to report to work as soon as possible. They all arrived at the mine site between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m.
The crew was told by Carlise that the C-330 hi-mag conveyor belt, an incline transfer belt from plant to bin, in the heavy media plant had pulled apart and would need to be repaired. Caushy and Klein assembled the tools and parts necessary to complete the job, while Hines drove the Genie manlift and Pridgen drove the Grove Rt-740 crane to the area where the work was to be performed. After arriving at the location, Hines positioned the manlift and raised the bucket about 2 feet. From this position, he attached a cable from the Grove crane to the counterweight. The Grove crane was used to raise the counterweight and a pin was inserted to secure it to the structure, allowing slack so repairs could be made.
Work progressed normally until about 8:30 a.m. when the crew stopped for breakfast. During breakfast they talked about the job, and how the repairs were progressing, and also about the wind. The witness’s all stated that, although they had discussed the wind, none of them were concerned about it. Earlier in the week, on Wednesday and Friday, the job had been delayed or cancelled because of high and gusty winds.
At about 9:00 a.m. the crew returned to work, with Klein, Causby, and Hines working on the conveyor belt from the walkway side of the conveyor. Pridgen returned to the Grove crane and Richardson remained on the ground to operate the manlift. Work continued without incident until about 11:30 a.m., when Richardson received a call on the radio from Carlise. Carlise stated that their lunch had arrived and to come down and eat. Richardson responded that they only had about 30 minutes left to finish the job and they were going to continue before eating lunch. Richardson had made one trip in the manlift to deliver tools and other supplies to the three men. Richardson had extended the boom of the manlift to a height of about 55 feet in an almost vertical position, placing the basket of the manlift along the outside of the conveyor, and passed the tools and supplies across the conveyor belt to his co-workers on the walkway. Richardson was on his second trip in the man basket to take some tools back to ground level. When he moved the basket away from the conveyor, the basket rocked twice and the manlift fell on its side with Richardson tied off in the basket.
Several co-workers rushed to the scene of the accident and a call was placed for emergency assistance. Paramedics and the coroner arrived at the site and Richardson was pronounced dead at the scene. He died as a result of crushing injuries.
According to Federal Investigators, there was no single found to be responsible for the manlift accident. It appears that a combination of factors contributed to cause the manlift to become unstable and subsequently topple. Possible contributing factors were the high and gusty winds, the ground conditions where the manlift was parked, and failure to do a complete pre-shift inspection of the manlift prior to placing it in service which allowed the inoperative horn for the level warning device to go undetected.
If you or a member of your family has been seriously injured or a loved one killed in a manlift overturn accident or fall during its use or during the loading or unloading of the manlift onto a trailer, then call and discuss this with a trial lawyer with 23+ years of experience in serious personal injury and product liability litgation. Free Case Evaluation Call 1-800-883-9858.