Safety in Steel Slab Crane

There is a crane on the steel side called the “Slab Crane” which has the main task of transferring slabs from rail cars to the ground then from the ground to the entrance to the reheat furnace. Most cranes that people are familiar with in our plant that carry the operator of the design of having the Cab on one end of the crane bridge. The slab crane is different and has the cab in the middle of the bridge beam.  Because of this placement the cab is more prone to vibration and bouncing around. This is crane arguably the busiest crane in the plant. It runs almost continually.

The crane is over 25 years old and has always had complaints that it was a rough crane to operate. The operators in the last year or so have reported the vibration and ride on the crane has become intolerable. In response operators have lodged and stronger and stronger complaints in an attempt to get the Company to engage in repairs to the crane.

Over the last few months the Company has attempted repairs to remove the vibration and rough ride only after a work refusal but efforts have only been partially successful. Our Safety department had a vibration analysis performed by the Saskatchewan OHS over a two hour period and it reportedly passed.

Since the repair the operators almost unanimously agree that not enough was done to remove the vibration and there is still severe. Three operators have reported that they have sustained injuries they believe are as a result of operating the slab crane and two have requested that they run other cranes as an accommodation until the crane can be fixed.  One Operator refused to run the crane under Section 23 of the Saskatchewan OHS act. The Company has refused to re-address the vibration and rough ride with any more possible solutions stating the repair is good enough.

The Union believes that in response to these accommodation requests the Company has begun a pattern of persecution. One operator was removed from all cranes and forced to work outside of his line of progression and the other moved to another crane in the LOP but is still expected to run the crane occasionally even though it contributes to his injury and pain. Both have sustained a loss in pay.

As a result of most of the operators dissatisfaction of the repair and injuries sustained the Union has intentions of contacting the OHS branch to request another vibration test be done under conditions that are more consistent to actual operation conditions of the crane and for a longer period of time.

As well the Union intends to file grievances and/or contact the Sask OHS branch to address the alleged persecution of accommodation requests and work refusal of the crane. The Union will also grieve that the reduced wages and the violations of members seniority rights regarding lines of progression is a Human Rights Violation as it is not an undue hardship for the Company to accommodate our members injuries.