A reader in the UK spotted a boom lift working in the street last week somewhere in the UK.
The unit a 65ft Genie was being used by painters working on the window frames of a multi storey building with a façade that is directly on the street.
Provided with an eminently suitable piece of kit for reaching the work, they clearly have a challenge on where to place it so that it does not block the road or the pavement/sidewalk.
They have elected to run the machine half on the pavement and half on the road. The problem is that they have had to cope with the different levels, as well as traffic control and pedestrian access, not to mention underground voids.
The rental company provided some basic signage, but it comprised a couple of cones and a directional arrow sign. Fine for some applications but hardly up to this job. Our correspondent taking safe access very seriously approached the two painters, both of whom were in the basket working – with no one down below. Here is what happened in his own words:
“Spotted near to me this week. Painting window frames on residential apartments, and two persons in the basket. Nobody on the ground. Very busy local road near to the bus station and the next building is a Health Centre. (in five minutes I saw four young Mum’s and push chairs squeeze past the boom lift). When I spoke with them to see if they understood the risks they said:”
Me: “you haven’t got enough signage”
Them: “We asked the hire company for more road signs, but this is all they sent”
Me: “What about the risk to pedestrians? –
Them: “what’s the matter with people? can't they see we are in platform? Why are they walking underneath us?”
I then pointed out it is a busy road to cross and the Health Clinic is on this side.
Me: “Why do you think it is acceptable to use a heavy machine on the pavement that may not be constructed to support the weight?”
I then pointed out the damage caused to the pavement. possibly by them or maybe in previous visits (I see this regularly but am usually in the car)
Them: - after a long pause - “If we put it on the road we would close half of it and there would be traffic chaos. We did it one Sunday using traffic lights and it was chaos. I wasn’t looking forward to doing this side, I just knew it would be hassle, you are not the only one to give us some grief today”
Me: “Do you realise if there was an incident and somebody was hurt, your Client, the Management Agent would also be trouble.”
Them: “He’s not here, he's gone to Dubai and he wouldn’t pay for scaffolding.”
One wonders if the company had organised a road lane closure or other permit?
But the biggest risks are being clipped by passing traffic, should the boom or counterweight stray into the street a little - at least the two are wearing a harness - dropping something on pedestrians, crushing pedestrians or the ground giving way.