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023_Chilled Water Pump Motor Unexpectedly Fell From Pump Pad

Chilled Water Pump Motor Unexpectedly Fell From Pump Pad Lesson Learned 023

A chilled water pump motor pad peestal with a motor present.

An employee was replacing bearings in a chilled water pump when they realized that the pump housing needed to be adjusted. To adjust the pump housing, the employee had to disconnect the pump motor from the coupler and then remove the coupler from the motor. Removing the coupler from the motor required the employee to use a pry bar to slide the approximately 500lb motor to the back of the pump pedestal which is further back than a normal job requires.

With the motor out of the way, the employee began to remove the coupler. While performing the work, the employee leaned on the motor causing it to fall 18” from the pump pedestal to the floor. There were no injuries sustained from the incident, however, the motor was damaged and had to be sent for repairs.

After the incident, it was found that a portable lift arm and forklift were located in the immediate area that could have been used to move and secure the motor which would have prevented it from falling off the pedestal. It was also determined that a qualified electrician was not used during the disconnection process for tasks such as verifying the voltage. While this incident did not result in injury, the reality is that a slight change in events could have resulted in serious injury.

A chilled water pump motor pad pedestal.
A portable left arm.

There were many lessons learned from this incident including:

  • Before conducting work, always perform a task hazard analysis of the job to identify the hazards and controls needed to safely perform the work.

  • When fasteners are removed on a piece of equipment, it is required to be secured by some temporary means to prevent injury and property damage.
  • If you have any questions regarding a specific job task or need assistance with performing a task hazard analysis of the job task, always reach out to your supervisor and/or department’s safety professional to work through the task to ensure that the proper controls are in place and procedures are being followed.
  • Unless you are trained and certified, never perform a job task that must be performed by a qualified technician.
  • Build Quality: The fasteners were removed with the intent to move the pump motor, however, the leads connected to the power supply were not disconnected and they were not long enough to allow movement of the equipment. As a result, the equipment sustained further damage when the fall occurred. Always follow equipment disconnection procedures that not only consider the safety hazards and controls but the quality implications that could lead to equipment damage.