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Blitz Results: Tower and Mobile Cranes

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: December 7, 2012
  • Content last reviewed: December 2012

The condition and operation of tower cranes, mobile cranes and concrete pumping equipment continues to be a key concern in Ontario. A number of incidents involving cranes and concrete pumping equipment have resulted in death and serious injuries to workers in the past few years. Some of these incidents occurred when cranes overturned, contacted electrical conductors or when the cranes or the material being lifted struck or crushed workers when the load was dropped.

Between July 1 and August 31, 2012, Ministry of Labour inspectors conducted a blitz of hazards involving tower cranes, mobile cranes and concrete pumping equipment at Ontario construction sites. Inspectors checked on compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

The goal was to:

  • raise awareness of key health and safety hazards involving tower cranes, mobile cranes and concrete pumping trucks
  • promote compliance with the OHSA and its regulations
  • deter non-compliant suppliers, constructors and employers
  • enhance health and safety partnerships and
  • promote improved health and safety of workers in the vicinity of tower cranes, mobile cranes and concrete pumping equipment

Report summary

Between 2007 and 2011, one worker died and seven workers were seriously injured in tower and mobile crane incidents at construction sites across Ontario.

Since 2008, ministry inspectors have conducted more than 266,000 field visits, 40 inspection blitzes and issued more than 426,000 compliance orders in Ontario workplaces.

During this blitz, inspectors visited 527 construction projects and issued 1,481 orders, including 149 stop work orders. The total number of visits was 608 because some of the workplaces were visited several times.

Full report

Workplace inspection blitzes

Inspection blitzes are part of the province's Safe At Work Ontario compliance strategy. They are announced to the sector by the ministry in advance although individual workplaces are not notified in advance. Results are posted on the ministry's website. The blitzes raise awareness of known workplace hazards and promote compliance with the OHSA and its regulations.

Inspectors' findings may impact the frequency and level of future inspections of individual workplaces. Inspectors may also refer employers for compliance assistance and training to sector health and safety associations such as the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA).

Blitz focus

During the blitz, inspectors focused on the following key priorities:

  • Safe access and fall prevention: Inspectors checked for the required presence and adequacy of access ladders and guardrails or other access equipment. They also checked for required fall arrest equipment to protect workers who could fall from tower cranes.
  • Proximity to overhead energized power lines: Inspectors checked if the crane operator maintained the minimum distance of approach from overhead energized power lines, if the voltage of such power lines was identified and if a procedure was in place to maintain the minimum distance of the crane or its load from the overhead power lines.
  • Tower crane maintenance and other records: Inspectors checked for records at the construction site on the condition of tower cranes, before and after erection, including a professional engineer's design drawings for tower crane installation. Inspectors checked that tower cranes were properly inspected prior to first use, and regularly inspected and maintained afterwards. Inspectors also reviewed log book entries to ensure operational functions (such as limit and overload limit switches) were properly tested.
  • Mobile crane maintenance and other records: Inspectors checked for records such as the crane operator log book and operator manual. Inspectors checked that cranes were inspected and maintained as required.
  • Training: Inspectors checked that mobile crane operators were certified to operate a crane at a construction site or were being instructed in crane operation and accompanied by a person who had the required certification.
  • Various other issues: Inspectors checked on the structural, mechanical and foundational integrity of cranes, safety systems, setup, proximity to people and safe hoisting practices.

The inspectors visited the following types of workplaces:

  • highway and roadwork construction
  • sewer / watermain construction and repair
  • single family housing low rise construction
  • commercial building construction
  • asphalt paving and roadwork on existing streets
  • apartment and other multiple housing high rise construction
  • institutional building construction such as schools
  • excavation or grading of lands for future construction or drainage
  • hydro utility installation, underground and above ground
  • bridge construction or rehabilitation work
  • underground tunnel construction
  • installation of electrical towers and transmission lines
  • cable installation involving various types of telephone / electrical / fibre optics
  • subway construction
  • hydroelectric and nuclear power plants construction activity
  • telephone cable installation and repair

Inspection activity

Inspectors issued orders at a rate of 2.53 per workplace visit.

The following table provides an overview of the blitz results:

Table 1: Tower and Mobile Crane Blitz Construction Site Visits July 1 – August 2012
Site visits by equipment type Field Visits Workplaces Visited
Mobile Cranes 351 334
Tower Cranes 61 50
Concrete Pump Equipment 133 128

Table 2: Tower and Mobile Crane Blitz Activity July 1 – August 31 2012
Program Activities Number
Orders (all types) 1,481
Stop work orders 149
Orders per visit 2.92
Stop-work orders per visit 0.25

Order analysis

Orders were issued for various violations of the OHSA and the Regulations for Construction Projects.

Three construction sectors received 65 per cent (960 orders) of all orders issued during the blitz. They were:

  1. commercial building construction: 151 field visits resulting in 262 orders, including 27 stop work orders
  2. single family housing: 108 field visits resulting in 306 orders, including 20 stop work orders
  3. apartment and other multiple housing units: 103 field visits resulting in 392 orders, including 44 stop work orders Ninety-six orders were related to equipment general maintenance and 81 orders were related to crane equipment such as outrigger use, rigging and equipment records

Inspectors also issued orders for violations involving personal protective equipment:

  • headwear: 68 orders
  • fall protection: 60 orders
  • footwear: 10 orders
  • eye protection: 10 orders
Table 3: Orders issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA),
and Regulations for Construction Projects (O. Reg. 213/91)
Reason for order Number of orders Percentage
of total orders issued
Stop work order on equipment, machine or device 149 10%
Personal protective equipment (head protection, fall protection, footwear, eye protection) 148 9.99%
Constructors' duties under OHSA 107 7.22%
Equipment general maintenance 96 6.48%
Crane issues: outrigger use, rigging, equipment records 81 5.46%

Conclusion

In general, the blitz results indicate hazards involving failure to use personal protective equipment continue to be a at concern on construction projects. Maintenance of vehicles, tools and equipment also represents a major health and safety concern. Crane-related issues (such as use of outriggers, rigging methods and equipment records) represent areas where continued vigilance is also required. There is a need for a better understanding of the regulatory requirements for constructors and employers on construction projects, such as ensuring that the necessary controls for occupational health and safety are developed and implemented at construction projects.

Constructors and employers should focus on raising workplace parties' awareness of key health and safety hazards involving traffic on construction sites and during road work projects and thereby promoting improved health and safety for workers on construction sites with traffic and road work projects.

Next steps

The results confirm a continued need for crane safety awareness and enforcement activities in the construction sectors. As a result, the ministry will continue to focus on:

  • reducing the incidence of occupational injury and illness in the construction industry, including major hazards and key issues identified during the blitz and
  • workplace parties' compliance with duties under the OHSA and its regulations

A health and safety culture requires all workplace parties to be vigilant and to give appropriate attention to workplace health and safety. In other words, the workplace must have a well- functioning internal responsibility system in which all workplace parties take responsibility for their own health and safety and that of their co-workers. A strong commitment by everyone in the workplace is needed to prevent injuries and illness and to reduce risk. Workplace parties are encouraged to work together to identify and control crane-related hazards found on construction projects.

Compliance help for employers

For more information on identifying, preventing and controlling workplace hazards, please contact our safety partners.