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Oct 29
Safety first on Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan construction site

Saskatoon – Construction for Saskatchewan's new children and maternal hospital has temporarily been halted as a result of a construction safety event yesterday.

"At approximately 1 p.m. on Wednesday, the forks of a forklift hit windows on the main floor of Royal University Hospital's same day surgery department," says Duane Galloway with Graham Construction and Engineering. "Fortunately, no one was in the immediate area at the time, and no one was hurt. However, our safety officers, along with Saskatoon Health Region's safety officers, immediately arrived at the site and began an investigation into what occurred. We completed that yesterday evening and have taken immediate corrective actions." 

Saskatoon Health Region supports the actions currently being put in place. However, construction of the new hospital has been halted. 

"Safety is our number one priority," says Dan Florizone, Saskatoon Health Region's President and CEO. "We support the immediate actions that have been taken. We understand mistakes happen and we know this wasn't intentional. But, we also know we could have been within minutes of causing harm to our patients. What we are looking for now is a more comprehensive safety plan to ensure this construction area is safe. Until that plan is completed to our mutual satisfaction, we will not be resuming construction."

This morning, a team of Graham Construction senior leaders and construction team members, senior Health Region and operational leaders, project management and architects, along with Ministry of Health, reviewed the results of the investigation and the proposed immediate actions. A dangerous occurrence report has also been filed by Saskatoon Health Region with Saskatchewan Labour.

"The crew involved was hoisting building forms, with two spotters in place to supervise the lift. We conduct a detailed field level assessment for every aspect of our work. The operator and crew were very experienced and capable. But what we didn't properly account for was working so closely to the hospital, the length of the forks relative to the lift, or having one of our spotters monitoring the equipment's distance relative to the building," says Galloway. 

Some immediate actions from Graham, among others, include the following:

  • forks from lifts will be removed when performing all lifts and shore rigging will be put in place to the lower overall height of handler and minimize blockages to sight lines.
  • field level risk assessments will ensure the relationship of the activity relative to the closeness of the hospital, parkade and public traffic is considered.
  • the two spotter system will now involve one spotter monitoring the position of the equipment and activity to watch positions and clearances around lifting points.

The area of incident has been cleaned, made safe and available for operation. Surgeries were not affected. Construction of the new hospital will remain halted until further notice.

"I really appreciate and am comforted by what we have seen to date in Graham's response to this incident and how seriously they are taking this," says Florizone. "It's very clear we both have the same goal – keeping safety the top priority. We both want to keep our patients and families arriving on this site safe. We want to keep our employees and our physicians who work here safe. And, we both want to ensure the safety for each individual working on or around this construction site."

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