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Blitz Results: Mobile Cranes and Material Hoisting 2016

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: January 2017
  • Content last reviewed: January 2017

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Hazards involving mobile cranes can lead to catastrophic events involving severe injury or even death of construction workers. Members of the public can also be injured or killed depending on the circumstances.

In the past few years, there were a number of incidents resulting in serious injuries to workers, as well as some close calls.

Between April 1, 2011 and May 31, 2016, three workers died and 12 workers were seriously injured in incidents involving mobile cranes at construction sites across Ontario, according to Ministry of Labour reports. There were also 66 reported incidents involving minor injuries to workers or "close calls".

Between August 1 and September 30, 2016, Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspectors conducted an enforcement blitz at construction sites across Ontario. They focused on hazards involving mobile cranes and related material hoisting.

Inspectors checked that employers were taking appropriate action to assess and address these hazards and protect workers’ safety. This included checking that employers were complying with the:

The goals of the blitz were to:

  • raise awareness of health and safety hazards involving mobile cranes and related material hoisting
  • ensure workplace parties were complying with the law and
  • prevent injuries and illnesses that could arise from unsafe work practices.

Background

A mobile crane is a cable-controlled crane mounted on crawlers or rubber-tired carriers or a hydraulic-powered crane with a telescoping boom mounted on truck-type carriers or as self-propelled models. It is designed to be easily transported to a site and used with different types of load and cargo with little or no setup or assembly.

Cranes are exposed to the elements and subjected to heavy use for extended periods of time. This makes them prone to stress, fatigue and breakdown, especially as they near the end of their useful life.

Cranes require regular maintenance and testing to ensure they are:

  • in adequate condition
  • operated, as designed, by the manufacturer and are
  • in compliance with the OHSA and its regulations

Report summary

In August and September 2016, ministry inspectors conducted 741 field visits to 686 workplaces and issued 1,613 orders and 43 requirements. This included 118 stop work orders. Some of the workplaces were visited more than once.

The five most commonly issued orders were for violations involving:

  • Fall protection: 261 orders (16 per cent of total orders issued)
  • Personal protective equipment and clothing (other than fall protection): 134 orders (8 per cent of total orders issued) – 80 per cent of which were related to safety hats
  • Crane operation and hoisting: 90 orders (6 per cent of total orders issued)
  • Notices of project: 74 orders (5 per cent of total orders issued)
  • Emergency procedures: 67 orders (4 per cent of total orders issued)

Full Report

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 identified in advance of inspectors’ visits. Results are posted on the ministry’s website.

The blitzes raise awareness of workplace hazards and are intended to 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 to health and safety associations for compliance assistance and health and safety-related training.

Blitz Focus

During the blitz, ministry inspectors visited construction projects that use mobile cranes across Ontario.

Inspectors focused on the following key priorities:

Suitability of ground conditions and set up of the crane: Inspectors checked that outriggers were extended to meet the load chart capacity and as per the manufacturer’s operating manual instructions. They also looked at the ground or supporting structure – whether it was adequate to take the loads applied by the crane and its load.

Proximity to overhead energized power lines: Inspectors checked that operators were maintaining the minimum distance of approach from overhead energized power lines and that a procedure was in place to maintain the minimum distance of the crane or its load from the overhead power lines.

Mobile crane maintenance and other records: Inspectors checked for records such as the operator log book and operator manual. Inspectors also checked that cranes were properly inspected and maintained.

Training: Inspectors checked that crane operators were qualified to operate a crane at a construction site, including having the proper certification where required, or in case of apprentices that they were working pursuant to a training requirement registered under the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009.

Various other issues: Inspectors checked on a crane’s structural, mechanical and overall system integrity, safety system, setup, and proximity to people. They also checked for safe hoisting practices, including hoisting hooks equipped with safety catches and their load carrying capacity legibly cast or stamped on them on a location where the person using the hook can read it.

Inspection activity summary

Table 1: Inspection Visits To Construction Projects
Program Activities Numbers
Field visits 741
Number of workplaces visited 686
Total orders and requirements issued 1,656
Orders 1,613
Stop work orders 118
Requirements 43
Orders and requirements per workplace visited 2.41
Orders and requirement per visit 2.23

Order analysis

Table 2: Most commonly issued types of orders under the Regulation for Construction Projects
Reason for order Number of orders Percentage of total  orders
Fall protection: missing guardrail or other fall protection or inadequate fall protection training 261 16
Personal protective equipment (other than fall protection): missing safety hats, safety shoes, safety glasses, etc. 134 8
Improper crane operation or inadequate hoisting procedures and equipment 90 6
Failure to file a Notice of Project when required by legislation 74 5
Lack of emergency procedures or failure to post the procedures in a conspicuous place on the project 67 4

Table 3: Orders by type of legislation / regulation
Legislation / Regulation Number Percentage of total orders
Regulation for Construction Projects 1,392 86.3
Occupational Health and Safety Act 213 13.2
Roll Over Protection, Noise, Industrial Establishments, Occupational Health and Safety Awareness, Diving Operations 8 0.5

A total of 1,613 orders were issued during the blitz:

43 requirements (not counted in the total number of orders) were also issued under the OHSA. Requirements are issued when the inspector needs more information in order to assess whether there is compliance or not – as compared to an order which is issued when the inspector determines that the legislation has been contravened.

Most of the orders issued under the Regulation for Construction Projects were for violations involving fall protection – in particular, an employer’s failure to provide a guardrail system:

  • as a primary means of fall protection (Section 26.1) and
  • around the open sides of a surface or floor (Section 26.3)

Some of the fall protection orders were related to training as well (subsection 26.2(1) of Regulation for Construction Projects and subsection 7(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training Regulation).

Second to fall protection contraventions, are those related to personal protective equipment – excluding fall protection. 80 per cent of such orders pertained to safety headgear, the top order written during this blitz (108 times, constituting 6.7 per cent of the total orders issued). 26 other orders were issued for lack of personal protective equipment, mostly related to safety footwear, followed by safety glasses.

Of the orders involving crane safety and material handling, 90 orders (5.6 per cent of total orders) were related to the focus of this blitz. Eighty-two per cent of those orders were related to cranes and 18 per cent involved hoisting equipment and procedures.

Stop Work Orders

A stop work order is issued when a situation could post an immediate hazard/danger to a worker. Stop work orders require a specific activity to stop at a workplace.

During the blitz, 118 stop work orders were issued under the OHSA. They were accompanied by 146 other orders requiring a specific activity to take place to remedy the issue involving the stop work orders.

Of the violations related to the stop work orders:

  • 22 per cent (32 of the 146 accompanying orders) were related to fall protection
    • 28 per cent of these were related to guardrails (missing or inadequate)
    • 15 per cent of these were related to training (inadequate or missing)
  • 7 per cent (10 of the 146 accompanying orders) were related to scaffolds and scaffold platforms
  • 5 per cent (8 of the 146 accompanying orders) were related to excavations and the stability of their walls
  • 4 per cent (6 orders) were related to equipment in general
  • 2 per cent (3 orders) were related to cranes – the focus of the blitz
  • No accompanying orders were related to inadequate hoisting or material handling

Conclusion

The results of this blitz indicate employers need to be more vigilant in complying with requirements for personal protective equipment on construction sites.

The blitz also indicates employers need to comply with fall protection requirements to protect workers. The Ministry of Labour has worked to improve compliance by conducting blitzes targeting falls hazards in the construction sector in 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

Next steps

The Ministry of Labour will continue to enforce safety requirements for mobile cranes and material hoisting.

Compliance help for employers

For more information on identifying, preventing and controlling these hazards, please contact the Ministry of Labour’s safety partners.

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.