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Ontario seeking input as it overhauls safety rules on tower cranes

July 22, 2021  By Crane & Hoist Canada Staff

Photo from Urban Toronto

Ontario is proposing to modernize and clarify existing requirements relating to the use of tower cranes under its Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The changes contemplated are significant and wide-ranging, and require close scrutiny by professionals.

There are 20 recommendations being made in six key areas including:

  • Introducing new notification requirements relating to the use of tower cranes;
  • Clarifying requirements for design, installation, maintenance, and inspection requirements including record keeping;
  • Referencing the Professional Engineers of Ontario’s practice standard for tower crane review and clarifying the role and responsibilities of professional engineers in the design, erection and inspection of tower cranes, including certifying tower cranes as safe to use after repairs or following fault diagnosis;
  • Introducing new, and updating existing, references to relevant national and international standards relating to the design and operation of tower cranes;
  • Updating and introducing new training requirements for crane operators; and
  • Addressing advances in technology by adding new and specific requirements for self-erecting tower cranes.

Some of the proposed changes would also impact provisions related to the operation of mobile cranes, it said.

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills development recently released a proposal to look at the Construction Projects Regulation (O. Reg. 213/91) and the notice and reports under regulations governing fatalities, critical injuries, occupational illnesses and other incidents.

“The proposal takes into consideration recommendations made to the Minister by the Provincial Labour-Management Health and Safety Committee (PLMHSC) and the Prevention Council,” the province said. “It also includes other changes intended to clarify, modernize and update the provisions to reflect current standards in the operation, use and maintenance of tower cranes. Opportunities to reduce regulatory burden in the requirements were also considered.”

The ministry said it recognizes some of the proposed changes may require equipment upgrades and will consider the timing of implementation to provide the industry with time to comply with the proposed provisions, if approved.

A look at key details in the proposal

You can view the entire 42-page proposal at But here’s a quick overview of some of the changes:

Self-erecting tower cranes

Self-erecting tower cranes are not currently defined in the regulation. The ministry proposes to define them as “a tower crane that is capable of being erected without the use of ancillary equipment.”

The proposed definition is intended to differentiate between conventional tower cranes and self-erecting tower cranes.

This proposal introduces specific provisions related to the use of self-erecting tower cranes such as operator qualifications and inspections. The proposed definition is adopted from Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standard Z248-17, Code for Tower Cranes.

Accidental load movement from a crane

If a suspended load is dropped from a crane, there could be potentially catastrophic consequences to the health and safety of workers, it said. The proposed amendment would require that a constructor give written notice of an accidental or uncontrolled movement of a load, or part of a load, or any failure of rigging suspended from a crane.

The written notice would need to set out the circumstances of the incident and the steps taken to prevent a recurrence (as required by subsection 4(3) of the regulation) and must be submitted to the ministry and to the joint health and safety committee, health and safety representative or trade union, if any, within two (2) days of the occurrence as required by section 53 of the OHSA, it said.

The proposed notice requirement would provide the ministry with the ability to follow up on occurrences to determine whether they involved any violations of the Regulation.

Crane operator qualifications

Excavation equipment used to place pipes into a trench is not a mobile crane or tower crane and, therefore, the current subsection 150(1.1) is redundant and should be deleted, it said.

“The proposed new operator qualification requirements for self-erecting tower cranes clarify the qualifications required to be held by the operators of self-erecting tower cranes depending on the rating of the crane,” it said.

It is also proposed that all operators of self-erecting tower cranes would be required to successfully complete the relevant modular training program for self-erecting tower cranes in addition to holding one of the prescribed certificates of qualification.

Rated load carrying capacity of cranes

The ministry is proposing to require the rated load carrying capacity for a tower crane to be determined in accordance with the current CSA Z248-17, Code for Tower Cranes to reflect current technology and standards.

The ministry is also proposing to update references to standards for mobile cranes.

The ministry proposes to replace “load rating plate” with “load rating chart” to align with clause 4.7.3 of CSA standard Z248-17, and to use “load rating chart” consistently throughout the Construction Regulation for clarity. Adding a requirement for cranes operated by remote control reflects the current technology used on Ontario construction projects and will ensure that operators have the information to safely operate cranes whether by remote control or more traditional methods.

The proposed amendment reflects the changing technology of tower cranes since the initial introduction of this requirement in the construction regulation. Industry experience indicates that most new luffing tower cranes have digital boom angle indicators at the operator’s controls. Older luffing boom tower cranes that do not have boom angle indicators may need to have them retrofitted in order to comply with this requirement.

Crane logs

The ministry proposes to amend section 152 to provide clarity regarding the creation and maintenance of the written record of a crane’s inspection and maintenance history.

The proposed requirements for Operator Crane Log to be kept at a project would codify current industry practice respecting the retention of crane inspection and maintenance records by crane owners and operators at projects. These requirements are consistent with clause 6.2 of CSA Standard Z248-17 Code for Tower Cranes, and they are intended to standardize and clarify what information is required to be kept in the Owner Crane Log and Operator Crane Log.

Section 19 of the construction regulation currently requires a constructor or employer to keep a project record for at least one year after the project is finished. Under this proposal, the log book would continue to be a record required to be kept in accordance with section 19.

The constructor or employer would be required to keep the Operator Crane Log for at least one year.

It would also require them to provide a copy of the log to the owner of the crane to be transferred into the Owner Crane Log.

The proposed amendments clarify that an owner of a crane would be required to provide the crane log to not only a constructor as currently required, but also to an MLTSD inspector, the employer or any persons designated by the constructor or employer (such as a professional engineer) in addition to the current requirement to provide these records to the constructor.

Cranes that hoist workers

The proposed amendments to subsection 153(1) and subclause 153(2)(b)(iii) clarify the intent of the current provisions which is to ensure the platform is adequately connected to the boom of the crane whether it is connected by means of:

  • rigging with more than one suspension line or support; or
  • directly attached to the boom.

The proposed amendment clarifies the existing provision and would not change the current intent of the requirement. It would require that a revised loading chart must be prepared specifically for the hoisting of workers on a platform connected to a crane.

It would also require that the revised loading chart must take into consideration the load restriction set out in subclause 153(2)(c)(iii) (i.e., the crane must not be loaded in excess of 25 per cent of its maximum rated load).

Crane operators would have to be provided with the revised loading chart and would be required to use the revised loading chart whenever a crane is used to hoist a worker.

The current location of this requirement could be interpreted so that the requirement is only applicable when cranes are hoisting workers. The proposed amendment clarifies the ministry’s intention that the requirement applies during all crane operations.

The proposed change clarifies that the notification requirement relates to a hoisting operation of workers only for the first time at a specific project rather than any time at a hoisting operation.

The proposed amendments regarding inspections of cranes used to lift persons are intended to ensure consistency with the other proposed inspection requirements for tower cranes under this proposal.

Cranes except tower cranes would still be required to be inspected by a professional engineer using non-destructive testing to ensure structural integrity of a crane used to hoist workers. A tower crane that is used to hoist a person must have all of its structural, mechanical, electrical and hydraulic components and systems inspected by a professional engineer before hoisting a worker. The performance standards specified in O. Reg. 260/08 are meant to provide professional engineers with the minimum basis for making an assessment on whether the tower crane is ready to operate.

It is proposed that a tower crane that complies with the general inspection requirements under Recommendation 15 of this proposal would be in compliance with the inspection requirements for tower cranes used to lift persons. The proposed schedule for inspections for cranes used to hoist workers and the proposed schedule for general tower crane inspections are consistent.

Moving workers with tower cranes in an emergency

The ministry’s proposed requirements for tower cranes where the emergency procedures required to be established by section 17 include the use of a tower crane to move a worker or workers in a platform, basket, stretcher or other rescue device suspended from the tower crane are what the ministry views as essential to the safety of workers being hoisted in an emergency.

The proposed requirements are similar to the existing requirements in section 153 that apply to all cranes but are separate and distinct requirements for tower cranes hoisting workers in an emergency in accordance with emergency procedures. Under this proposed section, the constructor would not have to notify the ministry prior to the emergency hoisting operation.


The proposed amendment would include the term “climbing” to clarify that subsection 154(1) applies to the activity of “climbing” that may be performed on cranes including, for example, internal climbing and telescoping.

Counterweight, test block and ballast

The proposed new subsection is intended to address a common safety concern related to the use of tower cranes.

Failure to accurately weigh and mark these components can result in incorrect balancing, decreased stability, overturning and/or overloading of the tower crane.

Any of these situations can be hazardous and potentially fatal to both workers and the general public if the project is near a public way.

Notice requirements

The proposed notification requirement is similar to the notification requirement for suspended work platform systems under section 7.1 of the construction regulation.

It is intended to strengthen enforcement by alerting the ministry about projects where a tower crane, except a self-erecting tower crane, will be placed into service and will be dismantled.

New design requirements for tower cranes

The ministry proposes to introduce new design specification requirements for tower cranes (including self-erecting tower cranes) to ensure that cranes are adequately designed for its intended use and will not endanger workers. The proposed requirements would apply to all tower cranes used in Ontario, including cranes that are imported into the province. This recommendation would be supported by a revised and more rigorous inspection regime.

“According to industry representatives, tower cranes are routinely designed to the European standard BS EN 14439,” the ministry said. “The ISO standard is intended to provide guidance in the design and assessment of control systems”

“The proposal would ensure that cranes used in Ontario have reliable and safer control system for tower cranes.”

It also clarifies that if a crane is in service at the time the proposal comes into force, the motion control contactors can be replaced after the crane is dismantled but before the crane is re-erected at a project. This will allow cranes in use at the time the Regulation comes into force to avoid in-service delays while attempting to change out contactors.

This would assist industry with compliance by allowing them to continue to use the older cranes, while still enhancing the safety of the cranes that are operated in Ontario, it said.

Amended inspection requirements for tower cranes

The proposed amendments to sections 158 and 159 would expand the prescribed inspection of the structural elements/components of a tower crane to include the inspection of the electrical, mechanical and hydraulic components and systems, and control systems.

The inspection would need to be performed in accordance with the performance standards for inspecting a tower crane prescribed by section 6 of the Performance Standards Regulation (O. Reg. 260/08) under the Professional Engineers Act.

The performance standards prescribe how professional engineers are to conduct reviews of tower cranes on construction projects before and after the cranes are erected and before they are put into operation which would ensure that inspection is conducted in a consistent manner. It would also provide compliance clarity and guidance to the engineering community and the construction industry.

This ministry also highlighted self-erecting tower cranes – which are erected and dismantled frequently, and in some cases daily.

“As such, these cranes are more prone to being damaged than conventional tower cranes and should be inspected periodically when they are in service to ensure they are maintained in good condition,” it said.

Inspecting older tower cranes

Improper maintenance of a tower crane can lead to catastrophic failures of the equipment. As such, in addition to Recommendation 15A above, the ministry proposes to introduce new comprehensive inspection requirements to ensure that tower cranes used in Ontario are thoroughly inspected at prescribed intervals.

The proposed requirement would require a tower crane manufactured ten or more years before the coming into force date (if any) to be inspected every 10 years (or earlier). These requirements for older cranes would involve a higher level of scrutiny of the crane components to ensure they can handle the rated capacity and to identify any defects or hazardous conditions. If the crane undergoes an inspection in accordance with this proposal within the 10 period (e.g., because of a major overhaul) the next inspection would need to be 10 years after the last inspection.

Providing feedback

The ministry posted the information on July 14, 2021 and comments are due by Sept. 13, 2021.

Comments can be emailed to

Mailing Address:
Construction Health and Safety Regulatory Proposal Project – Tower Crane
Health, Safety and Insurance Policy Branch
Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
400 University Avenue, 12th Floor
Toronto ON M7A 1T7

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