Do not stand under the load!

Some memories stay with you.

Here is one of mine… it must be a good seventeen years ago, we did a trade show and had set up a stand made up of scaffold elements. Tear-down was super hectic, all exhibitors (it was a big show) wanting to get off-site ASAP. We were dismantling the scaffolding, I was on a ladder undoing the binders. In hindsight I have to say that I probably did not quite understand how they were came undone, they were a jammed up and I was struggling. All of a sudden, the heavy, steel thing, the size of my fist comes apart, twists out of my hand and falls. I have a vivid memory of seeing it fall straight towards a person below me – and hitting her right on the side of her head.

It was one of those moments of sickening, horrified realisation of having got something badly wrong. Of this is not happening-denial. But it did. Very luckily it only glanced off the side of her head… yet still, I felt absolutely terrible.

Consequently to this day I am very sensitive to having people standing under loads or underneath people working aloft.

Take today…

We were back on the plane trees, workers from the city were keeping an eye on the ground and doing the tidy-up. Apparently last time they did the same alignment, one of the workers who was on site today had a serious struck-by incident, when he walked under the tree just as a large limb was falling out of the canopy. Helmet or not, this kind of incident can be fatal – without wanting to appear overly dramatic. Believe it or not, the same guy, come end of this afternoon,  obviously in an effort to speed up the departure to their yard, after having spent the rest of the afternoon fairly immobile, all of a sudden started hectically clearing branches under the tree we were working in. Lesson not learnt? It would appear so.

Take a recent crane take down…

The piece of canopy attached to the crane tipped sideways a bit – as can happen from time to time –, this was sufficient to cause a badly attached limb to break out and hit the ground.

I am absolutely adamant that it is crucial not to stand under a suspended load. Struck-bys are a sad reality of the arborist industry. A robust protocol regarding people under loads is a first step in order to protect ourselves and our team mates from this kind of risk.