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Scissor Lift Topples, Kills 2 at Port

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

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Two public-works employees were killed and a third was critically injured when a scissor lift they were working from toppled over in Port Everglades, FL, hurling them several stories to the pavement below, authorities said.

The Broward County Public Works employees were performing routine maintenance about 10:40 a.m. Friday (March 15) on a passenger bridge in Fort Lauderdale when the four-story-high lift fell onto a concrete dock.

toppled scissor lift

Two public works employees were killed when a scissor lift they were working from toppled over at Port Everglades in Florida. A third worker was critically injured and remains in the hospital, according to officials.

The Broward Sheriff's Office is investigating the accident, and the U.S. Coast Guard has been notified, the Sheriff's Office reported.

Victims Identified

The Sheriff's Office identified the deceased as Kenneth Krason, 49, and Mark Freeman, 51. Thomas Fischer, 49, was taken to a local hospital in critical condition. His condition was not available Tuesday afternoon.

Freeman and Fischer had been on the job for only five days, authorities said. Krason had been working at the port since 1997 and had been a county employee since 1991.

"It's sad to have to talk about these type of things. The port is a very close-knit family," Steve Cernak, Port Everglades Chief Executive and Port Director, told The Herald Tribune.

'They're Hurt Bad. Really Bad.'

The moveable bridge allows cruise ship passengers to disembark from berths at the port. No passengers were on the bridge at the time of the accident.

The accident happened at Terminal 1, just short of the Intercoastal's barrier wall, the Sheriff's Office said. However, some media reports and the initial 911 call erroneously reported the location as Terminal, or Berth, 2.

A bystander who called 911 could be heard telling the operator, "It's Berth 2, on the waterside. They were on the manlift working on the jetty for the cruiseship, and the manlift fell over. There's three of them, and they're hurt bad. Really bad."

"It just fell over," the caller said. "They were on the platform working, and it fell over. His head is crushed real bad. I don't think he's going to make it."

Investigators said the top platform had been extended just over 40 feet in the air at the time of the accident. Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Keyla Concepción did not have information on the manufacturer or supplier of the lift.

Port Everglades
Broward County Port Everglades Department

Port Everglades, a major cargo port and one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, is currently undergoing $500 million in renovations.

Investigation Underway

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is not investigating the accident, authorities said.

OSHA covers private-sector employees and employers through either federal OSHA or an OSHA-approved state run program. State and local government workers are not covered by federal OSHA, but have Occupational Safety and Health Act protection if they work in a state with an OSHA-approved state program.

Florida does not have an OSHA-approved state plan.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel told The Sun-Sentinel that detectives would be looking for cameras and other evidence during the investigation.

aerial lift deaths

A passerby who called 911 said the lift at the port "just toppled over." OSHA and local authorities are investigating the accident, which killed two workers.

About 26 construction workers die each year from using aerial lifts, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR). Half of these deaths involve scissor lifts, and most are caused by electrocutions, falls, and tipovers.

$500M in Port Improvement

Port Everglades is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, one of the most active cargo ports in the U.S., and a leading container port in Florida, according to its website.

The port was the site of another accident earlier this month. A 91-foot barge stacked with cargo containers was offloaded March 6 after it accidentally dumped 22 containers at sea.

Port Everglades is undergoing improvement projects to increase cargo business by adding five new berths, deepening its navigational channels, and bringing intermodal freight rail on to port property. The improvements, which are expected to be completed by 2017, total more than $500 million.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Fatalities; Health & Safety; lift; Maintenance programs; OSHA; Scaffolding; Work platform

Comment from Emmanuel Bortolis, (3/20/2013, 10:59 AM)

I would like to know if they had their lanyards attached and where?

Comment from peter gibson, (3/20/2013, 11:41 AM)

Where do you attach a lanyard 40 ft in the air on a scissor lift ?

Comment from Brent Bergman, (3/20/2013, 11:53 AM)

The fall protection program should require the Competent Person to specify the type of lanyard to be used and all approved anchorage locations. I suggest lanyards should be fixed length fall restraints or self-retracting lifelines.

Comment from Raymond Merrill, (3/20/2013, 5:03 PM)

Three people in one scissor lift! Two's a crowd in those things. A lot of good lanyards would have done in this situation(used or not). Frankly, I think scissor lifts are inherently unsafe and should be junked.

Comment from shane hirvi, (3/20/2013, 5:15 PM)

I would have to agree with Raymond that scissor lifts aren't exactly the safest choice. I would ask the people commenting about being properly tied off--where should they be tied off? To an srl tied to the bridge so you get ripped in half when the lift falls over? I just don't get some of these posts sometimes. As a matter of principle I try to avoid this type of lift whenever possible. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims.

Comment from jesse chasteen, (3/21/2013, 4:53 AM)

You have a hard point on the working platform and it directs you to attach to it, myself I will be honest, I might have looked to be tied off on the occasions I needed to be in a lift, but my mind had gone through this senario and I want to be able to make the choice as to whether or not to bail. These guys could have had a wheel punch through a storm water drain and thus toppled. They can be dangerous. Prayers to all affected..

Comment from David Zuskin, (3/21/2013, 6:52 AM)

It is a shame the photos are so fuzzy, from what I can see it does not appear that the outriggers were set.

Comment from Martin Walsh, (3/21/2013, 7:49 AM)

The type of lanyard that should be used in a scissors lift is a restraint lanyard to stop you from climbing on the handrail, as an average size man will exert a tonn of force on the point of contact, if he falls that is enough to topple most MEWP,s.There are anchor points in most machines these days but if there is not then the handrail will do as its a restraint point not designed to be load bearing,I have worked out of MEWP.s for many years and to this day I am not and never will be a fan. My thoughts are with the families and the victims.

Comment from William Gusnard, (3/21/2013, 9:15 AM)

I will make one point about being tied off when in a scissors-lift. Only once have I ever seen it save a life in over 30 years of engineering and construction work. The electrician was tied off on the scissors-lift itself. He was driving it well extended almost 20 foot in the air (violation itself). He drove it over a fllor penetration wooden covering and toppled over. AS he was falling the scrissor-lift hit the handrail on the platform he was on and he was thrown out. here is where the lanyard saved his life. The platform itself was about 40 foot above grade so he was left dangling instead of being hurled 40 feet to the ground.

Comment from John Parker, (3/21/2013, 2:38 PM)

The major cause of this type of incident is a failure to assess. I note the following: 1. Cause is not known to any readers of this article. No information has been provided. 2. Fall protection/restraint is not required when working from a scissor lift. However, attachment points are there should it be desired by the user to utilize fall restraint. 3. The work area should be closely examined, by a competent person, (prior to any work being performed) to ensure that the equipment used is safe to operate in the area. 4. ANY equipment can be dangerous when it is not used in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations. I have 20+ years in construction with an unknown number of hours utilizing and supervising the use of scissor lifts. All of the "accidents" that I have seen (none personally) have been attributed to user error. Either way, my heart goes out to the families for their loss..

Comment from M. Halliwell, (3/25/2013, 12:02 PM)

John, I'm not sure what the regs are on Florida, but where I am, fall protection is required on any lift (boom or scissor) per our OHS Code. I do agree that we don't have all the info and we need to be cautious in making generalizations. My own curiosity would make me ask a few questions: what was the wind like at the time of the accident? Was the lift being moved? How much? If more than a minor adjustment, why was the basket not lowered to give the unit more stability? Probably the types of questions being asked by the investigators. Still, my thoughts go out to the families of the workers who were killed and hopes for a speedy recovery out to the injured worker.

Comment from Pope Gary, (3/17/2017, 12:54 AM)

I will make one point about being tied off when in a scissors-lift. The work area should be closely examined, by a competent person, (prior to any work being performed) to ensure that the equipment used is safe to operate in the area. I suggest lanyards should be fixed length fall restraints or self-retracting lifelines. Read Safety Article :

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