OHS Canada Magazine


Collapse of mast climber claims lives of two masons

Workplace accident at Toronto construction project

(Canadian OH&S News) — Two workers have died after a mast-climbing work platform collapsed at a construction site in west Toronto on March 27.

The incident happened at an ongoing construction project at a condominium on Bloor Street West, across the street from High Park. Emergency medical services, fire professionals and the Toronto Police responded to reports of a construction accident that had occurred just before 11:30 a.m. that day, according to information from the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL).

“One worker was pronounced deceased at the scene,” confirmed MOL media rep William Lin. “The other worker was transported to hospital, where the worker succumbed to injuries.”

Media reports have stated that the two workers fell five storeys.

The MOL was also notified of the incident, and it issued an immediate order to Daniels Oakmount Corporation, the project’s constructor, not to disturb the accident scene and to provide various documents. Two of the many employers involved with the project, Brampton-based Venice Masonry Contractors Ltd and Milton-based Klimer Platforms Inc., also received orders for documentation; the MOL also ordered Klimer to provide a record of completed training.

“Our ministry dispatched inspectors and an engineer to the scene as well,” said Lin.

On March 30, the MOL issued a stop-work order to Venice Masonry, an order that remains in effect until the company rectifies deviations from manufacturer’s design drawings on two unrelated mast climbers. Venice has also been ordered to supply documentation related to the collapsed climber. The following day, the MOL ordered Venice to complete a report on the incident and to have a professional engineer inspect the two other climbers.

Daniels Oakmount has also been ordered to complete an incident report, while Klimer must provide various documents regarding all mast climbers on the construction site.

Venice Masonry did not respond to COHSN’s request for an interview. Klimer president James Gordon said that the company “will fully cooperate with the authorities,” but could not comment further, as the investigation was ongoing.

“It has always been Klimer’s top priority to meet and to maintain the highest industry safety standards,” Gordon added.

A mast climber consists of a horizontal platform upon a vertical mast that raises it up and down as required, using electric or gasoline power. A typical, working mast climber can hold and transport as much as 4,500 kilograms.

The incident occurred only five days before the MOL initiated its new Working at Heights Training Program Standard. This mandatory standard is intended to ensure that construction employees are sufficiently familiar with safety when working at heights, including hazard identification, ladder safety, personal protective equipment and the relevant rights and responsibilities.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety offers some safety tips for dealing with elevating platforms. Among the advice for operating one:

  • Follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions, including guidelines for maintenance and operation of the engine and hydraulic systems;
  • Inspect the platform before every use, for overall condition, uncontrolled motion, loose connections, damaged wires or lines, poor tire condition, cracked welds, faulty brakes, improper adjustments and broken wire ropes or safety devices;
  • Install guardrails properly;
  • Lock the wheels and use outriggers with sufficient sole plates;
  • Make sure ropes, cords and hoses won’t get entangled with the platform;
  • Never overload the platform; and
  • Use the elevating platform only if you have the proper training.