In Lopez v. Wildcat Cranes, a welder on a demolition project was injured. The welder was cutting a large steel beam, weighing thousands of pounds, which was located 25 feet above the surface of the roof, and removing it from the ceiling structure. The welder used a scissor lift to reach the beam, and another worker was going to cut the other end as soon as the welder finished cutting.
A crane was necessary to extract the beam. A company called Wildcat Cranes provided the crane, and its employee operated it. The one provided had a 12,000-pound capacity. The operator relied on a lift director to estimate the weight of the beam and direct the extraction by radio. The operator had the final decision as to whether the beam was within the crane’s capacity to lift. In this case, the lift director estimated the weight was 12,000 pounds, so he told the operator to apply a 6,000-pound counterweight. The estimate was not right.
As the beam was being cut, the operator knew something was wrong. The cab in which he was sitting began shaking, and a safety alarm went off, among other things. On the roof, the beam once cut fell four feet, and either it snagged the welder’s safety lanyard or hit the scissor lift. The welder was thrown from the platform and hung there by his safety lanyard. He climbed back on the platform without getting hurt.