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Blitz to Target Tower Cranes

  • Issued: June 6, 2011
  • Content last reviewed: June 2011
  • See also: Bulletin

Safety of tower cranes will be the focus of a blitz in June 2011.

The increased enforcement is part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario strategy, launched in June 2008.

A team of about 20 Ministry of Labour inspectors will target all construction sites that use tower cranes in the Greater Toronto and Niagara areas. The inspectors have received special training and will climb each tower crane that they inspect.

They will check for non-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.

Inspectors will take enforcement action, as appropriate, for any contraventions found under the act and its regulations.

A tower crane is a travelling, fixed or climbing mechanical device with specified features such as a wire rope to raise and move material. Used to erect high rise buildings, a tower crane can hoist and move material at great heights on construction sites.

Tower Crane Hazards

Hazards involving tower 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 tower cranes are:

  • Getting older
  • Exposed to the elements and weather extremes, and are
  • 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 tower cranes in the past few years.

In March, 2011, a worker died as a result of a tower crane incident in the Kitchener area. In addition, between 2006 and 2010, four workers were seriously injured in tower crane incidents at construction sites across Ontario.

Some of the injuries resulted from a:

  • Tower crane striking scaffolding that caused a worker to fall
  • Worker being struck by a piece of material that was being hoisted, and
  • 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 and collapsing
  • Tower crane tipping over
  • Rigging failure, and
  • Uncontrolled descent of material that landed in a busy traffic intersection.

Blitz Priorities

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

  • Safe access and fall prevention: Inspectors will check for the presence and adequacy of access ladder and guardrails or other access equipment and fall arrest equipment to protect workers who may fall from tower cranes.
  • Maintenance records and other documentation: Inspectors will check for documentation 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.
  • Training: Inspectors will check that crane operators are legally certified to operate a tower crane at a construction site or are being instructed in crane operation and accompanied by a person who has the required certification.
  • Various other safety hazards: Inspectors will check on the structural, mechanical and foundation integrity, safety systems, setup, proximity to people, and safe hoisting practices.

Greg Dennis, Minister’s Office, 416-326-7710
Matt Blajer, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405