Ontario will perform safety blitzes of construction sites and surface mines across Ontario this summer.
In July and August, inspectors from the Ministry of Labour will visit construction sites and check for hazards involving tower and mobile cranes 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.
During the 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.
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.
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.