WHAT'S NEW - US Events Companies Fined Over Fatal Boom Lift Accident

US Events Companies Fined Over Fatal Boom Lift Accident

by Vandana Thanki

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined, Pickathon LLC and GuildWorks LLC after two workers were killed at the Pickathon Music Festival in August 2019.

Employees of GuildWorks LLC, Brandon Blackmore and Brad Swet were using a ‘cherry picker’ boom lift to dismantle canopies above the main stage.  The boom was extended 40-foot, when it overbalanced and fell, killing both men at the scene.  The Clackamas County Sheriff Office said that the two workers were wearing safety equipment and were attached to the boom platform. They had climbed further into the trees above the lift platform and when it overbalance they were pulled down hitting the ground with considerable force.  

OSHA’s investigation found that two alarm devices on the machine had been disabled. The first alarm would have alerted Blackmore and Swet that the lift was on uneven terrain and the second alarm device would have stopped the platform from moving upward if an employee was stuck between the platform and something overhead.

OSHA fined each company $12,500 for disabling the alarms and Guildworks an additional $6,000 for not following the instructions provided by the boom lift manufacturer, which included maintaining a firm footing on the platform’s floor at all times, not raising the lift while on an uneven surface, not moving the machine while the boom was extended and while it was on a slope, and not putting the lift in a raised position while the counterweight, used for balance was on a downward side of a slope.

The investigation revealed that Pickathon and GuildWorks have a ‘history’ of not following standard safety procedures. 

“It is an employer’s responsibility to make sure that safety rules are followed for the very purpose of protecting workers from such tragedies.” Michael Wood – OSHA Administrator.  “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.”

Zale Schoenborn, Pickathon Founder, expressed remorse about the conditions that led to the deaths of Swet and Blackmore. “The tragic loss that the families of Brad and Brandon, Pickathon, Guildworks and the larger festival community suffered last year was absolutely heartbreaking and continues to shake us to our core. We have always focused on safety with the same passion that we bring to producing the festival experience, and in our 21-year history, this was our first serious accident.

Picture credit: Clackamas County Sheriff's Office