Close up view of a screw jack

Catastrophic Failure

Cause: Human Error

$100,000 approximate damage in less than 10 seconds due to operator error

The lift was inoperable for some unknown reason. The client brought in a local electrician to attempt repair. This individual did not have sufficient knowledge about the lift equipment and made the erroneous decision to operate the lift manually. This inadvertently disabled all safety control features that eliminated the lift stop points.

With the stop points eliminated, the lift frame collided with the bottom of the pit. This collision simultaneously took the weight off the Spiralifts and they continued to travel downward. This caused the horizontal and vertical bands of the Spiralifts to disengage.

Recognizing the mistake, the electrician quickly attempted to reverse the action and bring the lift back up. The damage was already done to the one downstage Spiralift and it was now inoperable. However, the two upstage Spiralifts did begin to rise. As they continued to travel upward, the lift frame began to tilt. Seeing this had further compounded the problem, the electrician made an attempt to stop the lift completely. Unfortunately, the contacts in the contactor had welded together and the lift would not stop. As a last resort, the electrician disconnected the main shut off and stopped the lift.

As a result, all three Spiralifts and guide shoes were extensively damaged. There was also a seat wagon that was loaded on the lift. As the lift frame tilted, the seat wagon slid forward, it peeled tiles off the basement floor and embedded into the under auditorium level wall. This caused damage to the seat wagon, the basement floor as well as considerable damage to the wall. Overall, it was a costly accident that could have been avoided.

Evaluation and Repair:

  • Received the call and photos mid-morning on day of accident.
  • Determined the urgency of the repair with the client’s schedule as an event was scheduled in five days.
  • Identified and organized what components and equipment was required to execute the repair
  • Identified what preliminary work could be performed by the client’s crew immediately
  • Ordered replacement parts from the manufacturer
  • Manufacturer compiled parts into a box weighing 2500 pounds and shipped overnight to venue
  • Works Global arrived the day after the accident, assessed situation, took inventory of parts and equipment and implemented a plan of action
  • Seat Wagon had to be extracted from the auditorium wall
  • Jack and shore up the lift frame
  • Disassembled and removed damaged Spiralift components
  • Re-built the Spiralifts with new components
  • Built a temporary guide shoes pending delivery of new ones
  • Replaced contactors and repaired control system and returned lift to operational status

Works Global, Ltd.
P.O. Box 79
Penrose, Colorado 81240


Randal Worker
Design Engineer and Owner
+1 719-332-1907

Tina Worker
Business Manager
+1 719-660-2782