How We Helped
A mechanic in a shop that builds MOW specialty vehicles was lifting an articulating crane to mount it on a truck bed when the sling failed. The mechanic was fatally injured when the load fell to the ground and toppled on top of him. The sling was not protected at the corners, and was not arranged to prevent it from sliding during the lift. The crane was articulated during the lift to shift its center of gravity. The articulating crane manufacturer reached out ESi for help. The codefendants included the rigging equipment manufacturer, distributor, and others.
We performed site inspections in 2010, an equipment inspection in 2012, and additional laboratory and field-testing at a site in Oshkosh in 2014. During the initial inspection, the damaged sling was still in the possession of the police department, and a telltale rope was used to record the locations where there was damage. This became an invaluable artifact. The plaintiffs claimed (1) sharp edges used in the rigging were improper and a hazard known to the equipment manufacturer, (2) the manufacturer should have provided a fixed lifting eye so sling contact with the edge could be avoided, and (3) warnings and instructions were inadequate. The co-defendants referred to OSHA and ASME standards in asserting that the employer’s safety and rigging practices were inadequate.
When inspecting the subject crane, the tell tale rope was used to see if the corners of the crane coincided with witness marks and failure points on the sling, as described in the initial statements. They did not. The testing included arranging an exemplar sling to compare the contact points with those indicated on the telltale rope. A light cotton sling was then positioned in the suspected arrangement and held tight, as the crane was articulated. The witness marks on the light sling, which failed during the articulation of the crane, matched nearly perfectly with the telltale rope.
One of the challenges was explaining to the jury how the crane's center of gravity affected the lifting arrangement. Our graphics team in Illinois and Iowa created illustrations, animations, and simulations to help the jury understand these difficult-to-explain concepts. Since the same model crane comes in different variants (a range of lengths of extension and accessories), and the degree of articulation required depends on the installation, one lift eye would not be appropriate. Articulation of the crane would stretch and overload the lift sling as it was arranged. Several of these graphics were included as part of the ESi technical report. Our support team summarized over 40 depositions and assembled the materials into a notebook for deposition and trial.
In the week prior to trial, the subject sling was available to compare with the test slings, and the damages on the failed test sling exactly matched those on the subject sling. The case settled. We have a happy client, and received extremely positive feedback about our work in this case. .
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