Halifax crane that collapsed during Dorian malfunctioned months before, report says

A crane that toppled in downtown Halifax during post-tropical storm Dorian malfunctioned months prior to the incident, according to an engineer's report from Sept. 24.

The review of the crane collapse, obtained by Global News under access-to-information legislation and posted online by the media outlet, was prepared by BMR Structural Engineering at the request of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

Dorian brought hurricane-force winds to the region and the crane toppled when the storm hit Halifax on Sept. 7, 2019.

The report said BMR Structural Engineering was involved with the design of modifications to the crane in May and June 2019 after a malfunction.

"The turntable of the crane originally erected at the site malfunctioned in May 2019," it said. "At that time, the top kit of the original crane was removed and a new top kit from a different crane was installed."

The turntable is the part of the crane that allows the jib — the long horizontal section at the top of the crane used to support the load lifted by the crane — to rotate around the mast.

The engineer's report was one part of almost 600 pages of documents obtained by Global News.

The report said BMR designed a transition section near the top of the mast to allow a new top kit, which is the portion of the crane above the mast, to be installed on the original crane.

It said BMR was only responsible for designing the transition section, while APA Inc. reviewed factors such as overall stability and load carrying capacity of the hybrid crane.

It's unclear if the malfunction had anything to do with the crane's collapse, because a large section of the report titled "reasons for collapse" is redacted.

Sections about the history of the crane, certification and inspections, weather-vaning the crane when out-of-service, and observations were also redacted.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

In an email, Labour and Advanced Education spokesperson Shannon Kerr emphasized that BMR's report is only preliminary and doesn't provide a root cause of the failure.

She added the department's own investigation, looking at the cause of the failure and compliance with respect to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, is ongoing.

"We cannot speculate on the outcome of our investigation," she wrote. "Minister [Labi] Kousoulis has committed to releasing a summary report once our investigation is complete, which is expected in the coming months."

Collapse affected businesses

Crews worked to stabilize the crane in the weeks immediately following the collapse so it wouldn't shift and cause more damage. It took more than a month before crews began the removal process.

In October, a number of businesses in the area affected by the crane collapse started a proposed class action, saying the collapse had a negative impact on sales.

The statement of claim named Lead Structural Formwork Ltd., which owns the crane, along with WM Fares Architects Inc. and WM Fares & Associates Incorporated, the developer of the building that was under construction when the crane toppled.

It also named the Manitowoc Company, which designed, produced, and fabricated the crane.

The final piece of the crane was removed from the site on Oct. 26, but at the time, the general cleanup of the site was expected to take another few days.

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