Should Scissor Lifts Have Been Banned?

For those of you who missed it, Scissor lifts are no longer operational on the Adelaide Hospital job site. Period.

scissor lifts banned at adelaide hospital

Here’s a rundown on the facts….

Steven Wyatt, 63, was killed on Saturday at 3.05pm after his body became trapped between the scissor lift on which he was riding and the top of a doorway. Union officials said the tragedy had similarities with the death of Jorge Castillo-Riffo in November 2014. Mr Castillo-Riffo, 54, died in hospital after he suffered serious head neck and back injuries at the same work-site when he was crushed between a scissor lift and concrete slab.

South Australian Health Minister Mr Jack Snelling told reporters he had struggled to believe that such a tragedy could happen again. “When I first heard the news, and first heard that it involved a scissor lift, there was certainly disbelief on my part that you could have two fatal accidents within almost 12 months of each other, both involving similar equipment.”

CFMEU secretary Aaron Cartledge described what he could of the incident. “They were driving it through a doorway and the operator was driving in and there was another guy sitting in the chair it seems,” he said. “As they’ve driven through the door it’s pinned him to the roof.” It is understood the machine was being operated by another worker. CFMEU assistant secretary Mick McDermott, who attended the scene, said the death was proof of the dangers in the construction industry. “It’s another fatality on a building site. It’s one too many. Every time this happens it’s one too many.”

The death brings this year’s work-related death toll in the state to five after a total of 14 fatalities were recorded in 2015.

The words of the CFMEU were…  “Both these men should still be alive. They must change the rules for operating scissor lifts and enforce them because operators don’t do it themselves.” – Is this a knee-jerk reaction?

Mr Carteledge said a series of safety briefings would be held before any work on the site resumed. “There would be no work with scissor lifts on this site until further notice,” he said. “They will start working through their job safety analysis and going through what activities they have to do with scissor lifts and what other (equipment) they can use instead.” The deadline, which was April, had to be extended for this to happen – pushing the project further over budget, and putting even more pressure on the trades and businesses involved in the project. 

“We need to really have a look at these incidents and come up with recommendations on our use of this equipment — is it training, is it fatigue, is it experience, are there devices that can be put on this equipment to make them safer?” Mr Cartledge said. He said some workers felt under pressure. “They’re pushed very hard at the moment to achieve a deadline and whenever you’re pushed hard like that you increase the amount of activities, the amount of workers, the amount of things going on on site, and hours get longer, fatigue sets in, so any of those factors could have caused this.”

It is understood Mr Wyatt was sitting in a plastic chair in the basket of the lift while he was been driven around the site by another operator.Mr Snelling said for scissor lifts to be used on the site again the CFMEU would need to be convinced they could be used safely. “If not, they won’t be used. I think, most likely, it will be the latter,” he said.

Is this outcome judging the scissor lifts over an operator error?

For projects to run on-time and to budget the use of access equipment is absolutely essential, and can be done safely if used in the correct manner. We feel very deeply for the families that are affected by these tradgedies that could have been avoided should proper training and operating measures have been put in place BEFORE it is too late. Training should be provided to all staff on site to ensure the correct use of EWP’s is maintained, not the costly alternative of banning scissor lifts altogether!

It is time to take preventative measures rather than knee-jerk reactions!

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