Aerial Work Platform Investigations

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Aerial Work Platform Investigations

On the Scene E-Newsletter, Edition 87, October 21, 2008

Aerial work platforms (AWP) are becoming an indispensable tool on construction projects. As their use proliferates, the number of accidents involving these devices is on the rise. There are several factors associated with investigating aerial work platform accidents that are important to a successful analysis of the cause and liability.

One issue is site preservation. Construction sites are scenes of high activity and the movement of equipment and materials obliterates evidence. The best case scenario is for the engineering expert to be the first responder to the accident scene where he/she can preserve the evidence. Even tire tracks can play a vital role in determining the cause of an accident but will not last long at a busy construction site.

The exact placement of the equipment involved is also important, and many accidents involve multiple pieces of equipment and their interaction. Once at the accident scene, the CED engineer will follow an established protocol to best understand the accident and help the client determine liability. The engineer will document and photograph the equipment and the scene.

The investigation also includes the inspection of the AWP itself. A visual inspection is followed by a careful determination of whether the equipment is operational. Depending on the model, the status of all preset speeds and accelerations are noted and the event log is documented. Tests include operational checks of the ground station and operator platform controls and testing of the safety features. The age of the equipment and the service history can be crucial factors in determining the condition of the equipment at the time of the accident, especially if a mechanical failure is alleged.

Finally, the events surrounding the accident are investigated. The engineer will evaluate the evidence and seek answers to the following questions: Was the operator qualified to operate the AWP? Were training and certification requirements met? Was the equipment being operated within the capacities and guidelines set forth by the manufacturer? Was the equipment misused or was there an equipment failure that contributed to the accident?

CED Investigative Technologies is called upon regularly to investigate and analyze aerial work platform accidents. Our experts have the equipment, training and experience to provide a quick response and a careful and thorough analysis.