The female operator sat injured inside the heavy piece of machinery for over a hour. According to Benoit Fleury, chief of operations for the Montreal Fire Department, the worker suffered broken arms and a broken leg as well as a cut to her head.
The accident occurred around 3:15 p.m. on the site of a new 450-unit condominium development. The land used to be home to Montreal’s famed Seville Theatre.
A witness at the scene said one of the workers at the site was able to flag down a passing fire truck just seconds after the crane fell.
Firefighters finally managed to free the woman at around 4:30 p.m. She could be heard sobbing and screaming as the emergency workers pulled her out using a pulley attached to a vest she was wearing.
She was loaded onto a waiting stretcher. People standing behind a safety perimeter set up by the police applauded briefly when she was freed.
Dion Williams was walking past the construction site when he says he saw and heard the crane topple.
“It sounded like two trains colliding,” he said.
His colleagues from a printing company located a half-a-block away came running when they heard the noise, he said.
The construction worker who was jammed inside the crane was clearly injured but she was alert, Williams said.
“I saw her body fly through the air when it fell,” he said. “You heard her yell. I saw blood coming out of the top right side of her head and her eye looks like it’s shut.”
People who gathered around the flimsy fence surrounding the construction site when they heard the crash of the crane yelled at construction workers not to touch the injured woman inside the crane, Williams said. “A worker yelled, ‘Mind your own business’. I don’t know why he was being that way. People were just trying to help and saying don’t touch her because it might make her injuries worse if they move her.”
Ernest Eugêne, a student who was walking by just after the accident occurred, crossed the street towards the site because he saw a construction worker trying to hail a fire truck that was passing by.
“I wondered what was going on,” Eugêne said. “That’s when I saw the crane on its side and the construction workers trying to help the woman inside.”
Before the accident, the crane was carrying a long steel beam that appeared to be moving in the wind, said Della Manning, who was parking nearby minutes after the crane toppled.
According to Fleury, the woman was unable to get out of her crane because of her injuries, but she wasn’t pinned inside. She was conscious when firefighters and members of the department’s high-rise rescue team arrived, he said. Firefighters attached cables to the tipped over crane to ensure it didn’t tumble further down the slope it was on.
No one else was injured.
The Quebec worker-safety board has launched an investigation into the accident, which has shut the construction site for an undetermined length of time.
The crane operator “was doing a manoeuvre” when the accident occurred, Eric Arseneault, a spokesperson for the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail du Québec, said from the site. But he had no other information to offer.
The CSST visited the site about a month ago as part of a routine inspection and found no problems, he said.
“When we visited the site, there were no violations of operational health and safety,” Arseneault said. “But when we go on a site, it’s like taking a picture. So two days later it could be a different situation.”
The Construction sector is hit with 19 accidents every day in Quebec, he said. Across all sectors, there’s one work-related accident every six minutes and one death every four days, he added.
“It’s unacceptable, especially because they can be prevented,” Arseneault said.
“Accidents do not happen as a result of an act of God. There’s always something that was not done well. It’s a strong message that we want to send to employers.”
Category: Accident Report