PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The death of a Beaverton School District maintenance employee on Wednesday is the 3rd workplace death in the region in the past week.
On August 8, two arborists were killed in Happy Valley after the boom-lift they were in tipped over at Pendarvis Farm while they were breaking down equipment used at Pick-a-thon.
“This equipment can be very safe if it’s used properly, but if it’s used incorrectly, it can be deadly,” said James Camaioni, the manager at Portland Star Rentals who has worked in the equipment rental industry for nearly 3 decades.
The equipment, he said, must be on a flat surface, operators must stay within the basket and be aware of windy conditions.
“There’s OSHA regulations and you have to be certified if you’re using any of this type of equipment on a job site,” he told KOIN 6 News.
There are multiple companies in the Portland metro area that do safety trainings, he said.
“Any contractor that’s going to use this type of equipment, make sure you get your employees safety trained so that they can go home to their families and be safe,” Camaioni said.
Trainers stress contractors should read the operator’s manual and do a job site inspection before beginning to take hazards into consideration. They also stress people should slow down and make sure you’re using the right equipment for the job.
The American National Standards Institute — ANSI — is responsible for issuing safety standards. They will update standards this December and will put more emphasis on the employers to ensure that safety requirements.
For example, a new rule will be that everybody has to be supervised while in these lifts, said Greg Hoole, the owner of Columbia Industrial Training and Education in Vancouver. Currently, he said 90% of the time, people are not being supervised.
If there was someone on the ground, they can serve as a second eye for any uneven terrain equipment might run into to prevent lifts or booms from tipping. Supervision will also ensure operators are using the equipment properly.
“That’s the big update that everybody’s sweating,” Hoole said.
He explained the supervisor requirement hasn’t been fully defined yet. Depending on what rules supervision come out at the end of the year, it could look like a lot more dollars being spent on having additional employees out in the field.
But Hoole said no matter what they’ll be dollars well spent.
“These accidents are going to be way more expensive for these companies than having supervisors there all the time,” he said.