Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Workers were trapped in their machines in deadly accident at TTC site
It was one of the questions labour ministry investigators were scrambling to answer Tuesday when a construction worker was crushed to death and five others injured when a rig toppled onto two smaller machines at York University.
The accident happened at 2:40 p.m. at the future site of a new TTC subway station, next to the Schulich School of Business.
Minutes after the accident, the construction scene transformed into a frenzied rescue zone as crews tried to pull two trapped workers from machinery.
The construction worker who died was in his 20s and caught in one of the smaller machines. The driver of the big rig was trapped for almost 90 minutes and was taken to Sunnybrook hospital with serious injuries, including a broken femur.
Others were treated at the site.
Toronto police and the TTC would not say how many construction workers were at the site when the drilling rig toppled.
The rig is used to bore holes in the ground for foundation piles.
The new subway station is a joint venture of Obrascón Huarte Lain and FCC Construcción, two Spanish companies, said TTC spokesman Brad Ross.
It is part of an extension of the Spadina line from Downsview Station north into York Region.
OHL-FCC are responsible for safety measures at the site as well as any subcontracting, Ross added. The companies bagged the $400 million project earlier this year.
In addition to the York University station, their contract involves twin tunnels and construction of the Highway 407 station, including a 600-car parking lot.
“My understanding is that they had hired subcontractors for much of the work but we don't know who or how many,” Ross said, adding that work at the university started in July. “We know they were doing excavation.”
The companies could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
University staff and students gathered around the site's perimeter for much of the afternoon as the rescue drama unfolded.
Dozens of firefighters, police officers and fellow construction workers worked furiously to retrieve the two trapped men.
Firefighters climbed atop the massive overturned rig to reach the construction workers. At one point, an emergency surgical team was called to the site in case “a procedure” was needed to release the man trapped in the large rig.
EMS commander Arthur Graham said a emergency attendant stayed with the construction worker and set up an IV drip with pain medication while others worked to remove him from the overturned machine.
No surgical procedure was needed to pull him free, Graham said.
The accident site is now under the control of the labour ministry. An inspector and an engineer are investigating, said William Lin, a spokesman.
As of late Tuesday evening, the body of the killed worker remained in the crushed cab.
Meanwhile, a group of exhausted construction workers gathered at the west end of the construction zone shortly after 4 p.m., one of them sobbing. They were too distraught to speak to anyone.
Deanna Reid, a York University student who was at the site, said it was a miracle the drilling rig didn't kill or injure more people. “I've been seeing the rig for the past few days,” she said. “It's huge.”
Ross said he didn't know if the accident changes anything for the two Spanish companies.