A popular and long-running Oregon music festival turned deadly last summer when two a boom lift tipped, killing two workers. That incident at the Pickathon Music Festival, an annual three-day extravaganza outside of Oregon that has been held every August since 1999, led to a state OSHA investigation and fines for the workers’ employer.
GuildWorks employees Brad Swet and Brandon Blackmore were on a lift platform about 40 feet high, removing down ropes from trees, when the platform tipped over.
An investigation by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that Pickathon LLC and GuildWorks LLC (a subcontracted company) failed to follow safety rules concerning the boom.
Investigators found that two alarm devices on the boom lift had been disabled. One of them emitted an alarm when the lift is operated on uneven ground, and the other stops upward motion if a user gets pinned between the railings and an overhead obstruction.
Oregon OSHA issued a statement in which it said the incident was “entirely preventable.” The agency fined each company $12,500, with an additional $6,000 fine for Guildworks LLC for failing to follow the boom lift’s instructions.
In a statement, Pickathon's founder and festival director Zale Schoenborn said the event will be redesigned “with safety even more at the forefront.”