When a beam is lifted with a forklift, care must be taken to ensure the beam can’t tip forward. The worker guiding the beam into place must stand out of the way to avoid a “dead fall,” and at the very least, the forks should be tipped back toward the cage.
Tim Uhler When a beam is lifted with a forklift, care must be taken to ensure the beam can’t tip forward. The worker guiding the beam into place must stand out of the way to avoid a “dead fall,” and at the very least, the forks should be tipped back toward the cage.

I subscribe to and enjoy your magazine. But I was disturbed by the December 2013 article by Tim Uhler, “Working With Large Beams.” Photograph 3 depicting a forklift with a beam and a worker on a ladder, shows the perfect conditions for a fatal accident. As a construction consultant and expert witness, I have reviewed the aftermath of many preventable accidents. I am currently aware of a double fatality in which a beam of a similar size “tipped” and came down on two workers in a scissors lift. It was in a situation similar to the one shown in photograph 3.

Although the author indicates that “it isn’t safe and it isn’t very smart [to manhandle beams without equipment],” the worker on the ladder is in a virtual “dead fall” position and is risking his life. Extensive damage would be caused to the structure from dropping a beam of that size even if the worker escaped injury. The beam shown is much...

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