Never stand under a crane load

Photo credit: kristykay22 on Flickr

My friend Darcy Olson told me about a crane that dropped its big, heavy hook on a construction site in downtown Vancouver.

He was working as an industrial electrician, reviewing blueprints with his foreman on the first floor of a three-story building, when he took note of two cranes servicing the site.

“We are instructed to always avoid being under a crane load, and at least be very aware if one is flying up above us,” Darcy wrote, via Facebook.

“As we were discussing our itinerary, I noted that a rigger and a helper were flying up material to the incomplete third floor. It was a casual observance, but I was keeping my eye in their direction.

Photo credit: Rob Main on Flickr

“The crane had dropped its cargo to the awaiting rigger and was in place to lower down to receive another. As I glanced up, I saw the ground-based rigger and his helper running like the devil himself was after them. One of the cables had snapped, sending the carriage hook plummeting three floors. The impact shook the ground and sent up such a plume of dust that I thought the load had dropped. That hook weighed two or three hundred pounds.

“The cable itself whipped through the air with such force it would have cut a person in half. All construction came to a halt. Luckily no one was injured, or killed. The resulting investigation revealed that the crane in question was due to be taken out of service due to its age. It was removed from the site and the other hammerhead crane serviced the rest of the project.”

Crane operator certification in BC

Crane operators in BC have been getting certified since 2007 because their work can have such serious effects when something goes wrong with the equipment, as Darcy describes. More info on this at the BC Association for Crane Safety website.

In BC, the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulations includes these two sections specific to crane operations:

Part 14 – Cranes and Hoists
Part 15 – Rigging

Thanks again to Darcy for this second story about working in construction. The first was Unsafe Handling of Nail Guns – and there are more to come.

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