OSHA bans Fire Service from using hydraulic lift

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A skylift hydraulic system seen on a fire truck. –

A little over three weeks after two firemen were injured during a fall from a hydraulic lift while battling house fires in Belmont, an inspector from the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) has instructed Acting Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Andy Hutchinson to immediately stop all use of the Bronto Skylift Hydraulic Platform.

Sources within the Fire Services told Newsday that the platform has not been in use in any operation since the accident on January 18.

A three-page memo from OSHA inspector Tazim Salim was sent to CFO Hutchinson on Tuesday.

In the memo, Salim said that any continued use of the hydraulic platform (Serial No: 5729-216) which is located at Fire Headquarters (North) in Wrightson Road, Port of Spain – without reviewing its systems of work and implementing measures to prevent a recurrence of the January 18 accident – would present an “imminent danger to life and health.”

Further, the use of this equipment without remedial work done to prevent further malfunctions and consequent accidents, would be a breach of Section 6 (2)(a) and Section 6 (2)(b) of the OSH Act.

In the memo to CFO Hutchinson, Salim said, “In light if the above, I hereby prohibit all operations requiring the use of the Bronto Skylift Hydraulic Platform with immediate effect until the existing dangers are removed and you have complied with the OSH Act.”

A fixed notice of the ban is to be placed on the hydraulic lift platform, with Salim telling Hutchinson that once remedial works were done on the equipment in conformity to the OSH Act, he (Salim) will visit and conduct a fresh, follow-up inspection of the equipment.

“Once satisfied that this notice has been complied with, I shall certify in writing and shall remove the prohibition notice,” Salim said in the memo.

On January 18, firemen were called out to deal with reports of four dwelling places being on fire.

Firemen were attempting to extinguish the blaze while inside the working case of the hydraulic lift platform when it failed and tilted forward, causing the working cage hydraulic platform plunging from its elevated position to a hanging position and making contact with the main arm (boom) causing two firemen to fall over the top railing of the skylift.

This caused firemen Korie Perouse and Mathew Mc Sween to remain suspended over the roof of a house which was not on fire as they were attached to their fall arrest system. This led to injuries including a compound fracture to the left leg of officer Perouse and soft tissue damage to the chest of officer Mc Sween. Both were later treated at hospital.

Salim also warned in the memo that failure to comply with his prohibition notice constitutes an offence under Section 83 (1) of the OSH Act and CFO Hutchinson could be subject to the Industrial Court and liable, upon conviction, to a fine of $20,000.

The CFO was also told he had seven days – from the date of the service of the notice – in which to file an objection to the OSHA’s prohibition notice.