Oregon OSHA Fines a Company after a Fatal Music Festival Incident

After a boom lift accident killed two workers at the Pickathon Music Festival in Happy Valley, Oregon OSHA has fined two companies $31,000.

Oregon OSHA investigated an accident on August 8, 2019 after two workers died on site of a music festival in Happy Valley, OR. The investigation found Pickathon LLC and GuildWorks LLC—a subcontractor to Pickathon LLC—failed to follow safety rules regarding a boom lift. Those rules included keeping safety alarm devices activated and heeding the manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions for the machine.

“It is an employer’s responsibility to make sure that safety rules are followed for the very purpose of protecting workers from such tragedies,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “This is a time to pause and remember that two people died, leaving behind family and friends. And it is a time to remind ourselves that this accident was entirely preventable.” 

The two workers were positioned in the platform of a boom lift raised about 40 feet high, and they were performing tasks after the music festival had ended. They were dismantling event-related hardware and ropes attached to trees when the boom lift tipped over, crashing to the ground and killing them.

Pickathon and GuildWorks were cited for a serious violation because two alarm devices on the boom lift had been disabled. One device would sound an alarm warning against operating the machine on uneven terrain. The other device would stop the upward motion of the platform if an employee became pinned between an overhead obstruction and the platform’s railing and controls.

Each company is being cited $12,500. Additionally, Oregon OSHA fined GuildWorks $6,000 for another serious violation: failing to follow the boom lift manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions.

Those instructions included the following: do not raise the boom while on an uneven surface; maintain a firm footing on the platform floor at all times; do not move the machine while the boom is extended and while the machine is stationed on a sloped surface; and do not put the boom in a raised position while the counterweight (which acts as a balance) is located on the downward side of a slope.

Oregon OSHA determined that companies will not receive the normal reduction in the penalty granted to small employers. This decision is based on the particular facts uncovered by the division’s investigation of the accident.

For more information, read Oregon.gov’s news release here.

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