Crane Safety Blitz on in Ontario

construction crane

The Ontario Ministry of Labour is taking steps to ramp up safety on construction sites with a blitz of cranes on work sites.

The blitz, which will last through August, will see 25 inspectors examining work sites using tower and mobile cranes, keeping an eye out for any use of cranes that could endanger workers.

Guy Taillon, a Ministry of Labour provincial specialist, noted that one of the things inspectors will be on the lookout for is proper maintenance and upkeep of the cranes, which will help ensure they will be less prone to breaking down or other machine errors that could lead to injury or death for workers.

“The problem is that as tower cranes age, they are often exposed to the elements and nasty weather,” Taillon said. “This exposure means regular maintenance as required by the manufacturer is crucial.”

The provincial specialist added that by not ensuring cranes get regular maintenance, parts of the crane can break and fail to be replaced, thereby boosting the chances of an accident occurring. Taillon added that, ” the older they get, the worse the problem becomes. They become hazards to workers – and the public.”

construction crane

While problems arising from inadequate crane safety procecures may not be common, they can be deadly. Between 2007 and 2011, crane incidents were responsible for the death of one worker and serious injuries to seven others. Accidents included a tower crane colliding with scaffolding, leading to a worker falling and another case where a worker was hit by a piece of material being hoisted by the crane.

Ministry of Labour inspectors will inspect sites to ensure cranes have the requisite maintenance and operating testing records, make sure they are not being used dangerously close to power lines, and ensure steps are being taken to ensure safe access and fall prevention, among other possible hazards.

Should a company be found in violation of proper safety standards and procedures, they could face stop work orders or fines. Companies could be fined up to $500,000 while individual workers could be fined as much as $25,000 and imprisoned for a year. While those penalties may seem steep, Taillon noted it was hardly out of line given the dire consequences that could take place due to a failure to follow safety procedures.

“Construction projects, including those with tower cranes, are busy workplaces where the conditions may shift constantly,” he said. “It’s imperative that supervisors and workers pay close attention to what’s going on. It may mean the difference between life or death.”

By Mark Schafer
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