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A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Posted 4/1/2017

By Robert Tutt, Black Warrior EMC

We learned a hard lesson about our new trailer. Maybe you can benefit from hearing what happened to us. 

In mid-October of 2016 we were called to send a line crew to assist the another cooperative up in South Carolina following hurricane Matthew’s passage up the east coast. We went up with a 6-man crew equipped with a large bucket truck, a small bucket truck, a derrick truck and trailer, and a pickup. One of the jobs we were sent out on required the crew to set a 30’ service pole and to string some #2 triplex to restore service to a home. We needed to drop the pole trailer and drag the pole in with the derrick truck, since there wasn’t enough room to turn them around while hooked up. The crew set the derrick up and unloaded the pole. Then one of the crew guys dropped the foot and the pole jack to pick up the tongue of the trailer. What no one realized was that the foot post was only about a foot long, so when he pulled the pin, it dropped below the pin location, so when he released it, the pin was on top of the foot post, and not through it. When the outriggers of the derrick were raised, it transferred the weight off of the pintle hook onto the jack stand on the pole trailer. Because the pin was above the foot post, there was a weak spot that allowed the trailer to shift. It then “hinged” at the foot post top just barely inside the tube, and the trailer came down on the young crewman who was watching the outriggers while he was raising them, and didn’t see the trailer falling until it landed on his leg, pinning him to the ground! Luckily, everyone grabbed the trailer and lifted it off immediately, and after a trip to the ER for x-rays, it was found that he hadn’t suffered any major injury, just bruising and soreness. Thanks to the good work boots, the soft ground, and the resilience of youth! 

We learned (the hard way) a valuable lesson about this new trailer. Our other trailers had a longer foot post and had a “keeper” to ensure that it couldn’t slip below the level of the pin. We have modified our trailer to prevent this from ever happening again. We also told the neighboring co-op where we first saw this model trailer so they could modify theirs. Finally, we contacted the manufacturer to let them know what happened and why, so they could modify their design. We have 5 of these units in our fleet now, we really like the trailers, but if you have one with a serial number CZ15KP, 19,000 GVW, you should take a look at it. Simply tack welding a small length of chain to the foot and the sleeve is a simple and inexpensive way to make sure the foot can’t slip too low.


Editor's Note: Many thanks to Robert Tutt of Black Warrior EMC in Demopolis, Alabama for sharing this experience with everyone in the hope of preventing anyone else from suffering this type of accident and injury. His post-incident review for this event provides a great example of how to identify what went wrong, why it went wrong and how to ensure that it won't go wrong again. Kudos to you, Bob