Worker makes unusual request, supervisor says no too quickly

by on September 6, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

Ever have a worker make a strange request – something that seems out of the blue?

It’s tempting to dismiss it. But you may not want to – the worker may have an unstated, good reason for the request.

Example: A worker asked a general contractor’s superintendent if he could set up his “lull” (a forklift used for reaching very high places) on property that was adjacent to the construction site. The superintendent, busy with other things, told the operator it had to be set up on the worksite.

It turned out that the forklift operator had a good reason for his request. He was being asked to build a tall scaffold. His lull used long outriggers to balance itself when it lifted heavy loads up high. Unfortunately, the scaffold was being built in a narrow alley, and there was no way to extend the outriggers.

So the lull operator looked around and saw there was an area on an adjacent property that would allow him to lift the load and extend the outriggers.

What happened? After the superintendent denied the operator’s request, the lull operator tried to lift the load in the alley without extending the outriggers. The entire scaffold collapsed.

The company ended up paying hefty legal fees to fight the lawsuit, and lost anyway. Best best: Ask supervisors not to dismiss strange questions, but probe deeper for the reason behind them.

Cite: Amore v. URS Corp., et al, No. 05-3560, D. N.J.

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