Blog Post #212 – Falling Materials Claim Rigger in Alberta

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada Magazine

A crane rigger suffered fatal crushing injuries on May 8 after building materials fell on him at a construction site in downtown Calgary.

Lance James Orr, 27, was working at the Penn West Plaza site when, at about 2:15 pm, pieces of concrete forms fell approximately three metres from a tower crane, says Chris Chodan, a spokesperson for Alberta Employment and Immigration (AEI).

“The workers were moving 10 pieces of concrete form, each of which weighs between 800 and 1,000 pounds, with a crane,” Chodan says. Four pieces slipped out of the crane’s sling and landed on Orr, who was working below.

A release from the City of Calgary notes that emergency responders attended and found the worker lying “beside a number of concrete forms.” Orr was pronounced dead at the scene.

A stop-work order was issued to Orr’s employer, Edmonton-based Pagnotta Industries Inc., Chodan reports. The order was to remain in effect until company officials could “provide safe lifting techniques,” he says.

Dan Fleming, the Construction Safety Association of Ontario’s field supervisor for the Toronto area, says he is unfamiliar with the details of this specific incident. In general, however, a rigger’s job includes ensuring that a crane’s load is appropriately secured, Fleming says. The proper size slings and design must be used “so nothing slips out,” he adds.

Consideration of weather conditions may also be necessary.

Orr’s death is not the only serious incident to occur at the site, says Chodan. On March 31, 2007, a worker raking concrete during the plaza’s first phase was seriously injured when he fell through an uncovered floor opening from the 12th to the 10th floors.

This past March, Viper Concrete 2000 Ltd. Partnership of Calgary was charged, as an employer, with five violations of Alberta’s OH&S Act. Pagnotta Industries and the site’s prime contractor, Centron Construction Corp., also face charges.

My opinion

There are four CSA standards covering the use of cranes. They are;

1) B167-08 — Overhead Travelling Cranes
2) CSA — Z150-11 — Safety code on Mobile Cranes
3) CSA — Z248- 04 (R2009) — Tower Cranes
4) CSA — C225 — 10 — Vehicle-mounted aerial devices

All aspects of CSA Z248 — the code for ‘Tower’ cranes, must be reviewed and adhered to prior to any work being done. As an instructor, it is incumbent on me to stay as current as possible and pass along the proper information. All operators MUST be competent in the inspection, application and operation of the crane which includes the proper use, inspection, storage and handling of the slings, be they of wire rope, chain or web construction.

The province of Ontario covers cables, slings and rigging in the ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91. (sections 168 to 180) I would suggest any of the readers from Ontario brush up on the sections from the ‘Construction’ regulation listed above before entering any job-site with the intention of utilizing a crane. Alberta should have a comparable set of work instructions similar for the proper handling of slings but if they do not, they should always revert back to the appropriate CSA and apply the information listed.

As an instructor for the safe operation of ‘Overhead Cranes’ and ‘Vehicle-mounted Aerial Devices’, we always emphasize safety in the use of the slings. The Millwright apprenticeship program in Ontario includes about a week’s worth of ‘crane’ training including a planned safe lift. I hope the standard is just as high in Alberta and this incident/accident was just an operator error and not one due to the lack of training. It is sad, once again, to have lost another worker in the province of Alberta. It does seem to happen all too often.

Remember — In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Construction Lifting and Rigging’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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