Safety of tower and mobile cranes will be the focus of a blitz in July and August 2012.
The increased enforcement is part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario enforcement strategy, launched in June 2008.
A team of more than 25 Ministry of Labour inspectors will visit construction sites that use tower and mobile cranes. The inspectors have received special training and will climb each tower crane that they inspect.
They will check for compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations. They will focus on hazards that could endanger the health and safety of workers.
Enforcement action, as appropriate, will be taken for any violations of the act and its regulations.
Under the Regulations for Construction Projects, a tower crane is a defined as a mechanical device or structure that is of the travelling, fixed or climbing type and that has a
- boom, jib or both
- power-driven drum and wire rope to raise, lower or move material and
- vertical mast.
Used to erect high rise buildings, a tower crane can hoist and move material at great heights on construction sites.
A mobile crane is a mechanical device or structure that incorporates a boom that is
- capable of moving in the vertical and horizontal plane
- capable of raising, lowering or moving a load suspended from the boom by a hook or rope and
- mounted on a mobile base or chassis.
These cranes are designed to be easily transported to a site and used with different types of cargo and loads.
Hazards involving tower and mobile cranes can lead to catastrophic events. For example, if a poorly maintained tower crane collapses, workers on the construction site could be injured or killed. Even the public can be affected if a tower crane falls or drops a heavy load.
All cranes are:
- getting older
- exposed to the elements and weather extremes and
- subject to heavy use for extended periods making them prone to stress, fatigue and breakdown.
There have been a number of incidents involving serious injuries to workers, as well as some close calls, involving cranes in the past few years.
Between 2007 and 2011, one worker died and seven workers were seriously injured in incidents involving a tower crane or mobile crane at construction sites across Ontario, according to Ministry of Labour reports.
Of the injury incidents, four were related to tower cranes and three were related to mobile cranes.
The injuries resulted from incidents such as a:
- tower crane striking scaffolding that caused a worker to fall
- worker being struck by a piece of material that was being hoisted
- worker being pinned under a load that was being lowered to the ground
Close calls (in which no one was injured) involved a:
- tower crane breaking into two
- tower crane tipping over
- Rigging failure
- uncontrolled descent of material that landed in a busy traffic intersection
Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:
- Safe access and fall prevention: Inspectors will check for the required presence and adequacy of access ladder and guardrails or other access equipment. They will also check for required fall arrest equipment to protect workers who may fall from tower cranes.
- Proximity to overhead energized power lines: inspectors will check if the operator maintains the minimum distance of approach from overhead energized power lines, if the voltage of such power lines has been identified and if a procedure is 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 will check for records on the condition of the tower crane, before and after erection, including a professional engineer’s design drawings for tower crane installation. Inspectors will check that tower cranes were properly inspected prior to first use, and regularly inspected and maintained afterwards. Inspectors will also review log book entries to ensure operational functions, such as limit and overload limit switches, were properly tested.
- Mobile crane maintenance and other records: Inspectors will check for records such as the operator log book and operator manual. Inspectors will check that cranes were inspected and maintained as required.
- Training: Inspectors will check that mobile crane operators are certified to operate a crane at a construction site or are being instructed in crane operation and accompanied by a person who has the required certification.
- Various other issues: Inspectors will check on the structural, mechanical and foundational integrity of cranes, safety system, setup, proximity to people and safe hoisting practices.