WINNIPEG – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its investigation report (R17W0190) into a hi-rail crane boom failure and employee injury that occurred in Brandon, Manitoba, in September 2017.
The crane boom failed due to undetected cracks in the crane column. Deficiencies with the crane operator’s seatbelt and seat locking mechanism contributed to the employee injury.
On September 2, 2017, a Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) Engineering Services work crew was using a truck-mounted boom crane to unload tie plates in Brandon Yard, Manitoba. The crane operator was sitting in an elevated basket secured to the crane’s column.
During a lift operation, the crane column failed and the crane boom dropped, throwing the crane operator onto the track about 12 feet below. The crane operator sustained serious injuries.
The investigation found that multiple fatigue cracks had originated near a weld on the interior of the crane column, and had propagated outward through the rear and side column walls. The impact from a 2015 collision with a train likely initiated these cracks.
If these cracks were present on the inner surface of the column when the crane was recertified following the collision and during subsequent annual inspections, they would have been difficult to detect given the limitations of the magnetic particle inspection technique used for crane inspection and the location of the cracks.
The seatbelt and seat-locking mechanism in the crane operator’s basket were inoperative, resulting in the operator being thrown out of the seat onto the track when the crane column failed, contributing to the operator’s injuries. CP’s daily crane inspection checklist included a requirement to check all safety devices for proper operation.
However, at the time of the accident, some of the safety features of the crane operator’s seat and basket were inoperative, suggesting that they were not being inspected. If the basket, the operator seat securement and seatbelt of a boom crane are neither regularly inspected nor appropriately maintained, there is an increased risk of operator injury in the event of an accident.
Following the occurrence, CP inspected all boom cranes across its system. No defects were reported. CP also revised its crane inspection procedures to include the crane operator’s seat.