Pickathon and GuildWorks Have Been Fined After an Investigation into the Deaths of Two Workers

Last summer, two workers died while operating a boom lift at the Portland-area music festival.

Pickathon's main stage. (Thomas Teal)

Pickathon and GuildWorks have each been fined $12,500 by state regulators for safety violations that resulted in the death of two workers.

Last August, two arborists who were taking down Pickathon's main stage when the boom lift they were operating tipped over, killing both people.

The incident occurred a few days after the annual Happy Valley music festival took place. Both workers were part of a crew with GuildWorks, a Portland fabric company that designed the signature canopy for the festival's main stage.

Related: Two People Killed This Afternoon While Taking Down the Pickathon Stage

In an investigation of the event, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health found that alarm devices on the lift had been disabled, and cited both Pickathon and GuildWorks with a serious violation. GuildWorks received an additional $6,000 fine for failing to operate the lift according to the manufacture's instructions.

OSHA often reduces fines for small employers, but chose not to grant such a reduction to either company.

"It is an employer's responsibility to make sure that safety rules are followed for the very purpose of protecting workers from such tragedies," Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA, says in a press release. "This is a time to pause and remember that two people died, leaving behind family and friends. And it is a time to remind ourselves that this accident was entirely preventable."

GuildWorks did not immediately respond to WW's request for comment.

UPDATE, 3:13 PM: Zale Schoenborn, Pickathon's founder and director, has responded with a statement:

"The tragic loss that the families of Brad and Brandon, Pickathon, Guildworks, and the larger festival community suffered last year was absolutely heartbreaking and continues to shake us to our core. We have always focused on safety with the same passion that we bring to producing the festival experience, and in our twenty-one year history this was our first serious accident. In 2020, we are challenging ourselves to completely redesign and rethink the festival with safety even more at the forefront in an effort to create a whole new Pickathon experience that is closer to nature, closer to the ground, and closer to the audience than ever before."

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