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 and worker being pinned under a load that was being lowered to the ground.
Since 2000, 10 workers have died in pits and quarries in Ontario. During the same period, 61 workers were seriously injured in pits and quarries.
As such, the province is set to embark on safety blitzes of construction sites and surface mines across Ontario this summer.
In July and August, 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 to check for hazards that could result in injury or death to workers as well as the public.
Inspectors will also target activities involving the transportation of stone, sand, gravel and other raw materials at mining pits and quarries.
Ministry inspectors have conducted more than 266,000 field visits, 36 inspection blitzes and issued more than 426,000 compliance orders in Ontario workplaces since 2008.
This summer, blitzes are also targeting new and young workers, temporary help agencies and construction traffic.
During the upcoming blitzes, inspectors will check on maintenance of equipment, worker training, the use of safety equipment and other potential health and safety hazards to help prevent workplace injuries.
More specifically, 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.
“The health and safety of Ontario workers is a priority of our government,” Minister of Labour Linda Jeffrey said in a press release. “For their sake and their families, we want to make sure every employer, employee and supervisor is well aware of the hazards of working in pits and quarries and at construction sites, and knows how to avoid them.”
“Workers can be seriously injured or killed by hazards in workplaces,” Chief Prevention Officer George Gritziotis said. “We're working to improve health and safety and prevent injuries and deaths at Ontario's construction sites and surface mines."
Enforcement action, as appropriate, will be taken for any violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations, warns the MOL.
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, according to the Ministry of Labour. 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, according to the MOL. Close calls (in which no one was injured) involved a tower crane breaking into two, a tower crane tipping over, rigging failure and uncontrolled descent of material that landed in a busy traffic intersection.
Posted by Arron Pickard