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Oregon OSHA fines cos. $31K for boom accident that killed 2

Pickathon Music Festival fatal workplace accident Aug 2019
Oregon OSHA
Boom lift overturned, killing 2 workers last August at site of music festival in Happy Valley

Boom lift tipped over after Pickathon Music Festival in Happy Valley

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon OSHA said Wednesday it has issued $31,000 in fines against two companies for safety violations following an investigation of a boom lift accident last summer 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.

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers resources to help improve workplace safety and health.

Contact Oregon OSHA’s no-cost consultation services for help with safety and health programs:

Phone: 503-378-3272

Toll-free in Oregon: 800-922-2689

Field office locations and phone numbers: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/maps.aspx

Email: consult.web@oregon.gov

The agency’s technical staff members can answer questions about rules and how to apply them:

Phone: 503-378-3272

Toll-free in Oregon: 800-922-2689

Email: tech.web@oregon.gov

Online contact form: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/Contact-Technical.aspx

Visit Oregon OSHA’s A-to-Z topic page for more information about on-the-job safety and health: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/az-index.aspx

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit www.osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov.

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1 Comment

  1. Just a few weeks ago during the mid Oregon Safety Summit (widely publicized here at KTVZ) I noted that Oregon has much higher work related injury/fatality rates than our neighbors- in some cases almost double.

    Now we know why ! $31,000 split between two companies for the deaths of two workers ??? Are you insane ??? This is a national embarrassment !

    It is safe to say that selling the organs of the deceased will amount to a helluva lot more than $31,000 !

    These companies are documented repeat offenders- who willingly ignored State and federal required regulations- dismantled safety alarms- and just basically ran willy nilly around Oregon making big money knowing that risks far outweighed the penalties.

    It is time for Michael Wood (Administrator for Oregon OSHA)to resign his position. Under his misguided “nice guy” approach to worksite safety- our state has become one of the most dangerous places in the nation to work- that according to national statistics- which once again show Oregon falling well below the national averages in 17 of 20 work sectors monitored by OSHA !

    I’ve seen Michael Wood give many speeches and- I’m not impressed ! His lack-a-daisical attitude- that golly gee- let’s just try harder- lacks the tough love and hard nosed conviction necessary to get Oregon companies to stop engaging in risky behavior.

    He should be personally outraged at this insulting penalty for these two companies- as we all know- such a petty fine will do nothing to stop the large scale construction companies in our region from taking short cuts- I’m willing to bet that OSHA has never sent an enforcement team out to any of the central Oregon data center projects. I guarantee- you’ll see it all- alarms disconnected on the mewps- unqualified trainers- fire hazards- welders with improper ppe- objects at height not secured for drops- and an extremely long list of serious injuries and LTI’s to back those observations.

    The working environment out there can be described as nothing short of hostile- with workers threatening each other over parking spots- safety teams afraid to report violations-lip service given to concerns… in my industry this would amount to nothing more than a fake safety program- lot’s of papers- no results !

    And now we know why- $31,000 in fines for two dead bodies- shameful !

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