Crane Accidents

Crane Collapse Kills Two at Oakville Water-treatment Plant


Ontario, Canada

Two construction workers were killed and two others injured Monday when a crane collapsed and twisted like a roller coaster track as dozens of horrified co-workers watched helplessly.

Trauma counsellors for Halton region police were at the scene of the accident, on the grounds of a water treatment plant, counselling shocked workers who witnessed the accident just before 2 p.m. Monday.

”I understand that quite a few people have been traumatized by this, and we’re getting some extra victim’s services volunteers to go out there and be with these people,” said Sergeant Joe Prasad.

”They’re people who spend time with people… in case of trauma like this.”

Halton police Chief Ean Algar said the 12-storey crane came crashing down on top of a foundation at the Mid-Halton Water Pollution Control Centre and Container Station.

”One worker was impaled on a steel reinforcing rod,” said a photographer, one of the first people on the scene. The rod was cut off and the victim placed in an ambulance.

Prasad said neither person hurt in the accident suffered life-threatening injuries.

A fifth person, who was operating the crane at the time of the accident, was taken to hospital and treated for shock, police said.

Non-union construction workers were working on the foundation for the expansion of the water-treatment plant to serve a growing residential area in Halton region, but it wasn’t clear what went wrong, said an officer on the scene.

”As we can see a very large crane was involved,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Martin as he surveyed the construction site, about the size of a football field, where the accident took place.

The names of the victims had not been released pending notification of next of kin.

Aram Malek, a unionized crane operator working in Toronto, rushed to the accident scene when he heard about the accident.

”On a union site, we demand safety first,’ he said. ”But on a non-union site, (sometimes) they are worried to lose their jobs because they don’t have another job. That’s the big difference.”

Mike Gallagher, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers local 793, said he was shocked and dismayed as he arrived at the scene, about 35 kilometres from downtown Toronto.

He said Monday he and other crew members felt ”just absolute horror and sadness for the victims who came out to earn a living for their families . . . a couple days after Father’s Day, it’s a tragedy.”

Patrick Dillon, business manager for the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, said between 15 and 20 people die on construction sites each year in the province.

”I think that for a too long of a time the government and employers in the province have not taken seriously enough accidents on construction sites,” Dillon said Monday.

Gallagher said that while an inquest is not required, he expected one would result from the accident.

Footnote: The crane is a Manitowoc 222. It was configured with 150 feet of main boom, no jib. It was working with about 50% of its rated load capacity when the accident occurred.

Initial reports indicated that the crane was holding a concrete bucket and as the workers began to open the chute of the bucket, the boom hoisting cable snapped causing the 150 feet of main boom to fall. The crane had less than 4,000 operating hours since it was manufactured in the United States. It is believed to be a 1997 model. The crane was in excellent condition and the boom cable had been inspected for broken wires less than two weeks previously.

The site is presently cordoned off by police, as the Ontario Ministry of Labour conducts its investigation.

Category: Accident Report

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