Crane operator escapes injury after heavy machine tips over near LRT tunnel
A crane operator escaped injury Wednesday when he leaped from his heavy machine as it tipped over while lifting a small cement mixer into a hole at the eastern portal of the Confederation LRT Line tunnel near Laurier Avenue and Waller Street.
Rideau Transit Group technical director Peter Lauch said the crane operator was “shaken” but unhurt in the incident, which occurred around 9:30 a.m.
Once the load was on, treads on the crawler crane were to extend to create a square and centre the load to prevent tipping. “Those treads weren’t deployed and that caused an unbalance and therefore we tipped forward,” Lauch told reporters at the scene.
He was unable to say what the cement mixer weighs or the extent of damage to the crane or mixer.
Workers had discussed safety and load capacity beforehand and ensured no one was underneath the empty mixer as it was being lowered, Lauch said.
The Ministry of Labour is investigating. No one from the ministry was available for immediate comment on the incident.
Ottawa and District Labour Council president Sean McKenny said there’s something “amiss” in the LRT tunnel project.
“This is kind of hard to hide,” he said, the toppled crane over his shoulder.
“Clearly our community is seeing that’s something’s amiss in the tunnel.”
McKenny said tunnel workers don’t expect carpeted floors or massages, but they do want safe working conditions. “After this, you can be assured there’s a few more of those workers that are reluctant to go into the tunnel for fear they could be injured,” he said.
McKenny said the contractor forces workers to sign confidentiality agreements, which, in part, prevent them from speaking to the media about the concerns. “Anything that does happen in the tunnel stays in the tunnel.”
McKenny said he will be meeting with LRT officials and transit boss John Manconi Thursday morning and will raise this.
Lauch and Manconi both defended RTG’s safety record.
“It’s a big job site, it’s a tough place to work at times, but having said that, we stand by our safety record,” Lauch said.
All workers in Ontario are protected by provincial health and safety rules and regulations, Manconi said. “They have the right to refuse work, they have the right to report their injuries and they have obligations also.”
The $2.1-billion Confederation Line is to be completed next year. Manconi denied suggestions RTG might be pressuring workers to rush in order to meet that deadline.
“We are not going to compromise safety to meet a deadline,” he said.
Watson was told at council that a vehicle with a crane attached tipped over, but he had not heard why it happened.
“The Ministry of Labour will be on the scene along with RTG to examine what exactly happened,” Watson said at city hall after a council meeting. “We’re very pleased the protocols were followed, no one is hurt and we’ll wait to hear from the Ministry of Labour.”
“Any time there’s any incident, it raises concerns, but this is a massive project, it’s $2.1 billion, and we have one of the safest records on safety in the entire province for a project this size,” Watson said.
The incident is the latest issue to face workers who are busily trying to keep the LRT project on track. Several complaints have been made by workers on the project in recent months about the tight quarters underground, poor sanitation and issues with debris littering the work site underground.