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"An Intimate Encounter with an Outrigger Plate!"

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I hope that everyone reading this can all recall the two separate OGCA Members Bulletins that were circulated regarding the legislated requirement that was enacted in 2017, that reclassified some Road Building Machines to Commercial Motor Vehicles (Highway/Road Vehicles).

Specifically, the requirement for an annual inspection and certification of the vehicle portion of mobile cranes, concrete pumps and all other such vehicles. Regulation 611 (Safety Inspections) under the Highway Traffic Act. The requirement to display an annual inspection sticker as outlined in Section 85 of the Highway Traffic Act came into force on July 1, 2021, for all mobile cranes and concrete pumps.

So, why am I bringing this up? As a reminder perhaps?

Yes, but more importantly to recount a personal encounter that I had with one of these mobile cranes, specifically it’s outrigger plate!

On the morning of May 27, 2022, I was driving westbound along highway 407 on route to work in medium density traffic, and the weather was overcast and raining lightly. I was securely in my lane with vehicles on either side, when a vehicle suddenly swerved sharply to the right in front of my vehicle in an attempt to quickly avoid something on the roadway. I could not do the same since I was flanked by a vehicle on either side of me, and not wanting to cause an even larger accident – that was clearly going to occur – I stayed in my lane and struck an object impeding my path.

The object was an outrigger plate from a mobile crane that had blown a tire, and due to that occurrence, it lost this large object that was now a very real hazard on the roadway.

What is an outrigger plate? Great question. Allow me to illuminate you.

An outrigger plate is a specialized safety tool that can be used with any equipment that has stabilizers. It is a must for steadiness when a piece of equipment – such as a mobile crane – lifts loads. Outrigger plates were created to connect to the base of outriggers, down jacks or stabilizers when extended from the piece of equipment to stabilize equipment so that the ground below doesn’t shift and equipment doesn’t topple over. These items are integral pieces of equipment when lifting loads. They are not, however, very integral when passenger vehicles are driving at high speeds along a highway. Then they become a major hazard.

After striking the outrigger plate, I instantly knew that I was going to have one of those days!

I was able to maneuver my vehicle, an SUV, and come to a stop just in front of the mobile crane on the shoulder of the highway. As I noted, the mobile crane had blown one of its tires and was currently unfit to drive on any roadway.

As I walked over to the vehicle, the drivers of the crane and myself witnessed yet another vehicle driving over the same outrigger plate, but since this vehicle was a smaller passenger sedan, the result caused all of the airbags to deploy in the vehicle. That second vehicle came to a hard stop and was left in the second lane of the highway. The driver emerged disoriented and clearly in pain. An airbag deploying suddenly at high velocity will cause injury.

By this time an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) cruiser appeared on the scene and situated itself between the large metal hazard on the highway and the second vehicle that had hit the outrigger plate.

As I approached the mobile crane, the driver and worker were friendly enough and inquired about my wellbeing. I was good, but my vehicle was not. When I bluntly inquired about the last time that this mobile crane had had its annual inspection and certification of the vehicle portion, I was met with some surprise and a great deal of angst.

They inquired as to how I knew about this? I noted who I was and that the OGCA had been working with the Ministry of Transportation on communicating to our members about the specific subject of ensuring that all reclassified Road Building Machines had safety inspections and certification since it was a must for public safety.

They simply stared at me in disbelief. Yup, of all the people that could have run over this hazard, it was someone who knew a great deal about how to avoid such a situation from ever occurring.

Upon inspection of the vehicle portion of this mobile crane, I photographed that this commercial motor vehicle had never had any safety inspection. No stickers! Even though it was a clearly noted legislated requirement to operate any commercial vehicle on any roadway. By the state of the tires, it was clear that this vehicle had never updated its tires and this would have been a flagged requirement had an annual safety inspection been conducted.

I have not mentioned the name of the mobile crane company, since I am not here to publicly shame them. Instead, this is more so a public service announcement.

I personally recommend that you give mobile cranes and other previously considered Road Building Machines careful consideration when driving beside and/or around them on roads, especially highways since they may not have fulfilled their legislated requirement for an annual inspection and certification of the vehicle portion of their equipment. This means that they are a true mobile hazard just waiting to happen.

Additionally, the OGCA recommends that members should only be using rental mobile cranes, concrete pumps and all other such vehicles that can satisfy the government annual sticker regulation by sending the contractor the vehicle inspection clearance and CVOR prior to being allowed access to any construction site. Members have a contractual responsibility for those they hire and should ensure that any contractor providing such equipment is cleared for such operation.

The summer is in high gear and so are construction projects, so please be careful on our roadways with these vehicles. I got away with only damage to my vehicle. The other driver was not as fortunate. Please be careful! 

Should any of our members have questions regarding the legislated requirement for reclassified Road Building Machines to obtain an annual inspection and certification, or if you require any assistance from the OGCA, please contact me directly at giovanni@ogca.ca or via phone at 905.671.3969.


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