As the Environmental Health and Safety officer at the company, I have one primary issue to address immediately upon learning of the crane incident; it is urgent that I ensure that no one is in danger and that the equipment held by the crane be secured or safely moved. Connected to this is the equally immediate need to see that no one in the operation requires medical treatment following the accident. In this matter I cannot rely on secondhand reports so, after first ensuring that everyone concerned is away from the field of danger, I make sure that all personnel on the scene are met by myself. Even as I am told that the company nurse is able to treat the minor injuries, I insist that an external medical team be brought in; it is entirely possible that some men suffered injuries not immediately known to them, and I must see that everyone hurt is thoroughly examined.
Once it is certain that no one is in danger on the scene of the lift any longer, and that those present at the time are being properly treated, my next priority is assessing the options regarding the suspended equipment. As I discuss these with the engineers, I am told that an employee has informed OSHA of the situation and indicated that it is a dangerous one. I realize that the call no longer applies in an urgent sense because I have seen to it that, no matter any structural damage occurring on the scene, no person is at risk. The call itself is something to be addressed later. Meanwhile, I consult with the engineers and supervisors as to the chances of success in moving the part safely and correctly, given the equipment at hand.
No matter their opinions, I allow very little time for this; the important factor is determining if any such chance exists, or how they believe the operation may be safely completed otherwise. I ask them to consider this with no regard to expense, given the urgency of the situation and expense not being their concern. I emphasize that their focus must only be on finishing the job with safety as the priority. As they consider the options and (safely) examine the circumstances, I then contact the facility manager and inform him of all that has occurred. I relate what I have been told and the instructions I have thus far given, and say that it is imperative that, given the information at hand, additional engineering consultants be brought in.
In plain terms, and in my professional capacity, I cannot trust to solutions proposed by our own team when that same team ordered the crane to be jury-rigged, and also that they chose to use a crane likely not able to do the job. I am aware that I have no evidence for this, but the comments of the workers and the situation itself strongly support the reality. I also inform the facility manager that I am making my thinking in these matters public knowledge because the company, its urgency in needing to fulfill the contract notwithstanding, is liable to suffer immense damage if it does not, first and foremost, secure safety conditions. The courts have consistently upheld that, no matter contractor and subcontractor relationships, the general contractor is liable for any accidents occurring (Connolly, Crowell, 2014, p. 8-11).
After this, I determine to meet with all workers present at the time, but my goal is only to gain information. I do remind them that they are in no way obligated to ever undertake any operation seeming unsafe, and that they should in fact refuse to cooperate, as when they were aware of the issues in the situation before the accident. That an hourly employee has already notified OSHA is out of my hands, and my reaction to this is to meet with the OSHA representative I expect on the scene and report exactly what I know to be the facts of the case. I honestly convey that I myself would have made the contact at the first possible opportunity, as I remind this person that my positions demands I address issues of accountability in safety protocols. Lastly, I go on record as urging the company to spend whatever is necessary to best complete the operation safely, as the accident having occurred places the company at risk of losing far more than future contracts.