Ask the Crane Operator

You Asked. The Crane Operator Answered.

Phoenix (Crane 2)

Standing at over 250 ft (about 24 storeys) high with the capacity to lift over 40,000 lbs, Phoenix (Crane 2) will be leaving the West Park campus on August 27 after a year of working on the new hospital  

On August 27, we say au revoir to Phoenix (Crane 2), the tallest of the West Park cranes, which has diligently lifted materials with grace and finesse to help construct the South Inpatient Block of the new hospital.

But before we say goodbye to Phoenix, its operator — who is a tad camera shy and prefers to remain anonymous – answered an abundance of curious questions below posed by patients and family members last month. 

On behalf of the West Park community, we would like to thank Phoenix and its operator for helping us build a facility that will enable staff to better support a patient’s journey to a better quality of life.

Life on the Crane

1. How long does it take to climb up and down? 
About 10-15 minutes as long as there is no inclement weather.

2. Do you have to sit all day or can you stand and stretch? 
We get up, stretch, and walk around the platform when it’s not busy.

3. Can you eat and drink up there?

4. Do you have air conditioning and heat? 
Yes, there is both.

5. How do you communicate with the ground crew?
Two-way radios.

6. Is it windy?
Very much so.

7. What happens if you get nauseous?
Take a quick break if need be. 

8. Is there someone on the ground to take your place if you need a break?
No, it’s a shift commitment unless it’s an emergency.

9. What if there’s an emergency and you can’t climb down? Who comes to get you?
There is a rescue procedure involving specific people on the project.

10. How often is the structure checked to make sure it’s safe? (referencing the crane accidents last year in Toronto when the crane broke)
There are daily visual inspections and weekly/monthly maintenance.

11. What does the ‘horn’ mean?
The horn signals a load moving over head or coming down in a blind area.

12. I am wondering how they take down a crane once a building has been built up around it??
Mobile crane if accessible or a Derrick crane built on roof if need be.

13. What happens if you need a bathroom break? How does one ‘go to the bathroom’ up there? 
The key is to use the washroom before the shift. ;)

Being a Crane Operator

14. How did you get into being a crane operator?
My father was an operator and I just followed in his footsteps.

15. How do you become a crane operator?
You need 4,000 apprentice hours with a journeyman/licensed operator.

16. How much do you make?
Union rate $44/hour.

17. Are you scared of heights? Do you get used to it?
No you can’t be in this line of work.

18. How do you train to be so careful and gentle lifting and setting down the materials? 
Practice at the yard and simple experience.

19. Not a question, but want to let you know you’re doing a great job!
Thank you.

Crazy and Scary

20. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen up there?
Forest fires working up north and out west.

21. What’s the scariest situation you’ve ever been in? 
Unexpected lightening hitting a building.