The employer was building a concrete reinforced bridge, replacing an older steel bridge over a large ditch alongside a levee. Employee #1 was a carpenter who was loading steel pilings on to a lowboy at the time of the accident. Another employee was using a backhoe to provide the force needed to lift the piling. A third employee, the truck driver, was assisting in aligning the suspended piling so that it could be lowered onto the lowboy.
The employer had provided a shopmade lifting device with a pincher- type action to pick up the piling and hold it.
At some point, with Employee #1 standing on the lowboy to guide the piling, the piling unexpectedly dropped a short distance and bounced up from the lowboy, striking Employee #1 in the head. He died of a crushing injury to his head.
What went wrong?
Although the information is not provided, the shop-made pincher may not have been tested for industry standards as to the weight it could safely lift and hold. It is reasonable to infer that the equipment was unsuitable for the job it was used to do.
Republished from Marine Construction Magazine Issue IV, 2022