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Lift truck hoisting utility pole tipped over, fatally injuring one worker and seriously injuring another

Date of incident: August 2015
Notice of incident number: 2015173550131
Employers: Electrical contractor; general contractor; property owner

Incident summary
At a residential construction site, an equipment operator was using a lift truck to place a 9-metre (30-foot) utility pole in a hole in the ground. The operator positioned the lift truck across a driveway with a steep grade. As the pole was lifted perpendicular to the ground, the lift truck became unstable and tipped over. An electrician standing nearby to assist was struck by the pole as the lift truck tipped over. The electrician was fatally injured, and the operator sustained serious injuries.

Investigation conclusions

Cause

  • Wrong attachment used on lift truck made load unstable. The lift truck was fixed with a forked attachment designed for use with palletized loads. This attachment was used to place the utility pole by slinging the pole from one fork. This is not the proper use for this attachment. An attachment designed for use with suspended loads should have been used.
  • Lift truck used beyond slope limitations. The equipment operator did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using the lift truck on a slope. Instead, he used an improper procedure to overcome the slope limitations of the self-levelling features of this machine.

Contributing factors

  • Ineffective supervision. Supervisory personnel for both the general contractor and the property owner were aware that the workers planned to place the pole using the lift truck on a steep slope. They did not verify that the lift truck was being used appropriately or was capable of safely placing the pole on such a grade. Therefore, they failed to ensure the workers’ health and safety.

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Publication Date: Mar 2019 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2015173550131