C16-012 Complacency Kills and IrritatesEarly in the deployment, we had a guy using a crane to lift something that was probably too heavy for the crane. It makes sense to think that the cable might get tighter and tighter and then snap (which would lead to some nasty injuries on its own) but instead, what is more likely to happen is that the heavy items remains on the ground, and the crane just gets pulled down to its level. That’s what happened to our crane operator– he had outrigger legs on the crane (kind of like a car’s jack, to change a tire, but permanently attached to each corner to help stabilize the crane during lifts) but the outrigger legs just went into the sand and did nothing to help.

So the crane tips over and, of course, this is an opportunity for everyone to get lectured on how to operate our equipment properly, to use safety devices, etc. The problem was, everyone knew how to do that, but the problem was that things just weren’t able to function in the heat and sand the way they functioned in temperate, hard-packed home soil. Our problem was the ability to adapt our equipment handling to the environment.

Eventually people figured out how to operate the things in the sand (find rocky areas to work, put wooden panels under the stabilizer legs, etc) and no one was injured, just shaken up. Actually, after a brief round of safety briefs, our chain of command didn’t really freak out about it and do something silly, like make everyone wear a half-dozen reflective PT belts or something like that, so kudos to them.