Crane Institute of America

Right in our own Backyard

Crane Operator AccidentKeith Bramblett, a 29 year old sign erector worker, fell 40 feet to his death when the aerial lift platform he was in ripped from the boom.

A pole designed to support a large billboard sign was being erected in Central Florida in May, using a telescoping boom crane, when somehow it fell. Bramblett was in the basket of a Vehicle-Mounted aerial lift. Despite being told not to, he tied the basket to the pole. When the pole started to fall Bramblett tried to cut the basket free of the pole which was temporarily being held up by the aerial lift. The weight of the pole was too much for the aerial lift and the basket was ripped from the boom sending it and Keith Bramblett 40 feet to the ground.

What made the billboard pole fall?
The crane didn’t overturn, so the pole must have been rigged improperly. Lifting a large pole from horizontal to vertical and aligning with the base mounting bolts is no easy trick, though the technique is well known. Rigging a large pole can be difficult if there are no weldments to attach to. Using a basket or choker hitch around the pole would not have been adequate rigging to lift it to a vertical position. If the rigging had been done improperly, the pole could have slip out of the slings.

Why was the man basket tied to the billboard pole?
Workers are required to connect their fall protection harness to a proper anchor in the basket. They’re required to only tie off the basket if they are going to get out of it at elevation, which obviously isn’t the case here. The OSHA investigation will determine why the load fell but we may never know why Bramblett tied his man basket to the pole.

Don’t let this happen to you. Crane Institute has a number of aerial lift operator training courses, as well as rigging classes to help you avoid the damage an frustration displayed above.