The Ontario Department of Labor, Education and Skills Development is cracking down on the safety of tower cranes this fall after two crane collapses in Toronto this summer.
The Department of Health and Safety at Work Senior Manager Brian Barron noted that crane breakdowns can create a significant risk of injury or death in addition to property damage, and called on Secretary of Labor Monte McNaughton for a special safety flash. According to Barron, the ministry, which has 153 inspectors in its construction inspection pool, is hoping to visit all 200+ tower crane sites across the province as part of the four-month initiative, with extensive inspection duties generally including mounting most of the cranes.
“This is one of the most common pieces of equipment on a job site,” commented Barron. “From erection to dismantling, they run pretty well throughout the shift. In some cases, they run six or seven days a week and effectively do all the elevators. So you can appreciate the fact that they are highly stressed and, for the most part, lift extremely heavy loads. Hence, it is very important that these parts of equipment are regularly serviced and inspected. “
The department has various construction site inspection programs targeting trending hazards or regional issues, and sites with cranes are routinely inspected otherwise. However, the two incidents this summer sounded the alarm. In July, a crane at a PCL site near Simcoe and Wellington Streets hit an adjacent building, and less than a month later a crane at a Daniels site fell in the junction of River and Dundas Streets.
TORONTO FIRE CHIEF MATTHEW PEGG’S TWITTER (@CHIEFPEGGTFS) – On July 17, crews dismantled a crane that collapsed in a building in downtown Toronto. No one was injured in the July 16 incident, and the Toronto Fire Department secured the scene.
Barron said the investigation into the two incidents was complex and no conclusions had been drawn as to the cause.
“The bottom line is that our job is to ensure that the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OHSA) and building regulations are adhered to. We monitor compliance,” he said. “If two tower cranes fail, it is a major incident. It is important to be able to react quickly and to ensure that these devices are thoroughly inspected and are in compliance. “
Tower cranes have a long life, Barron said, noting that it is not uncommon to see a tower crane in use for 30 years.
“These are devices that require some careful attention to ensure that they are working properly, that all structural elements are intact, that they are working properly mechanically and electrically.”
MARG EDWARDS – Tower cranes have a long lifespan of up to 30 years, so they require a lot of attention to ensure they are operating properly, said an Ontario Department of Labor manager.
Barron said it takes almost a full day to inspect each site.
It generally starts with an administrative review, including drawings of the various configurations in which the crane will be placed.
The inspector then reviews the required inspection protocols and checks various components of the crane, including non-destructive testing of welds and other connection points to ensure
This integrity is maintained and there are no cracks or other small defects.
Next, a visual inspection around the base could be done, including checking the electrical connections.
Then comes the climb.
“You will climb on the crane and look for compliance with the laws and regulations as you climb the tower crane. They’ll go upstairs and check the crane operator’s log to make sure they’ve done their tests. Weekly tests need to be carried out to test the functionality of the tower crane, ”said Barron.
There will also be discussions with swamps who carry out rigging and signaling and monitor operations over the radio.
There will also be process runs to ensure that the planned tasks do not conflict with other risks such as overhead lines.
“In the case of downtown Toronto, there may be other buildings in the way to keep the crane from swinging or rotating into those buildings,” Barron said.
“You will be dealing with a number of different topics. It’s a very complete and detailed inspection. “
In addition to the general OHSA requirements and specific requirements for crane regulations, the inspectors also want to ensure that the manufacturer’s equipment manuals are followed for proper use and operation in relation to the intended use of the equipment, Barron said. Operators must have certificates of qualification to operate a tower crane, which are also verified.
Enforcement actions include various orders, including work instructions, or fees may apply under the law.
Barron said the lightning was allocated four months because it was a busy time for staff, with continued inspection related to COVID still a priority.
He said that during his 16 years of service he encountered some extremely unusual security breaches, including the time crews installing spray foam insulation believed they could comply with safety protocols by wearing bags over their heads, but generally is compliance much better today than in 2004.
“I see a surprising level of innovation where many companies have developed advanced health and safety systems to protect their workers to ensure that workers have the highest level of education.”
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