Two men miraculously live after hardware failure; one falls 80'

Discussion in 'Incident and Near Miss Discussions' started by Kevin Reski, May 7, 2008.

  1. Kevin Reski

    Kevin Reski Frequent Poster

    We had a five man crew (newest guy 5 years experience) working for the fourth day on a 15 degrees above zero morning a couple miles South of Minot ND. The tower was rigged to the top with a man-rated double drum hoist using 1/2" steel wire rope winch line to move cellular antennas, people, t-frames and coax runs up and down the existing 400' guyed tower.

    In the morning (after the test lift), Eddie and Dusty were the first guys to start riding up on the headache ball (separated between themselves by a 6' long X 1/2" steel "riding choker" with thimbled eyes) to start working at the tower top. When they got to the 100' elevation, they had the hoist operator stop raising them up the tower in order for the two men to pull the 1/2" winch line from behind the 100' elevation obstruction light fixture. When they pulled the cable out from behind the fixture, the winch line (which they were suspended from) traveled or slid out alongside the wrong thickness wedge which was used in the "wedge and socket" (becket) assembly. Eddie was riding on the lower end of the riding sling and Dusty was above on the big locked hook of the headache ball.

    Eddie temporarily had his boots resting on a tower cross-member at the same time of the cable separation which made Dusty fall onto Eddie?s lap. Then the two men fell 20' together to land across the 3/8" guy wire at the 80' elevation of the tower. The guys on the ground heard a scream and looked up to see the two men and 200-pound headache ball hitting the guy wire and twirling around it until Dusty's pelican hook became disconnected (we still don't know how) and he fell the balance of the 80' out and away by himself to land face-first into the fresh 2' of untrampled snow a few feet from the tower base.

    Eddie, (still tangled onto the guy wire at 80') along with the steel choker rigging and headache ball, was wrapped tight around the guy wire which did not allow him or the ball to fall or slide. Eddie took his spare lanyard and snapped it onto the guy wire to protect himself from falling the rest of the way to the ground in case something changed. The foreman called 911 at this time.

    Dusty lying on the ground face down in the snow, told everyone not to touch him, he said he just wanted to lay there awhile. Eddie (still on the guy wire) was asking for someone to get him out of there. (This is a total of approximately 10 seconds since they fell).

    Eddie pulled himself down the length of the bottom guy wire to the anchor and walked back to an already waiting ambulance. Dusty had already walked to the same ambulance and the two of them were heard laughing together as the ambulance doors closed. The two guys recovered from their bumps and bruises and were back on the job next day. Eddie had a bruised wrist and thigh where the headache ball banged into him as he got twirled around the guy wire. Dusty got a hairline fracture on the bridge of his nose and black eye when he face-planted in the snow.

    What had triggered this accident was a hardware assembly mistake of two same sized (labeled 1/2") wedge and socket assemblies (beckets) from two different brands that had been assembled together. The 1/2" wedge from brand A and the 1/2" socket from brand B were used together. Both parts clearly marked for size and brand clearly on their forgings and stampings. The correct parts for the correct brands were in the rigging box; someone had just picked out and assembled pieces from two brands. The wedge that was used in the becket was only 1/2" thick and the opening width from the different brand socket required a 1" wide (thick) wedge! This allowed the 1/2" steel cable folded belly to slide past the "side" of the too narrow wedge which allowed the cable flew one way and our 2 guys flew the other away with the headache ball and becket still connected to them.

    Since then, we have removed all becket assemblies from our hoist cables and all hoist/winch line ends have all been replaced with swedged/crimped eyes with h-duty thimbles on the ends of the winch lines. We now also train all field people how to use and correctly assemble beckets if they ever come across them again.

    God bless the USA!

    Kevin Reski, President
    Great Plains Towers
    Richard Bell likes this.
  2. Jason Racic

    Jason Racic Friend of the Community

    WOW, You're lucky not to have had the guys die. Thank God for snow.

    Here in Australia we can't ride any hooks by winch. If using a crane we can use a dog box (cage) and in some states we need approval from the local Safety Authority which also sees a requirement for a SWL of 1.5T on the hook.

    G'day from Australia
  3. Chuck Iversen

    Chuck Iversen Friend of the Community

    Thanks for posting the details of that hardware Kevin, we'll check out all our gear!
    And good job with the DJ taping!! Thanks again!
  4. bennettbike

    bennettbike Friend of the Community

    What a crazy story, I can just imagine what they looked like "laughing" over by the ambulance. I sure would feel good to be alive after that.

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