Safety Order: Inspection of passenger ropeway towers for water intrusion



Reference number
SO-P4 081218 3

This safety order is being issued pursuant to section 31 of the Safety Standards Act. A person affected by this safety order may appeal this order, in writing, to the Safety Standards Appeal Board in accordance with Section 51 of the Safety Standards Act. It is an offence under section 72 not to comply with a safety order.

Part 1: Details of regulated work or regulated product

This safety order is being issued in relation to a regulated product – specifically towers of hollow steel construction that support circulating above surface passenger ropeways with either fixed or detachable grips.

An incident involving the failure of a steel support tower on a detachable 8 passenger gondola has been reported to the British Columbia Safety Authority. The incident occurred Dec 16, 2008. It has been determined that water had accumulated in the lower tower tube of a two section 15 m support tower. The lower tower tube, which is partially filled with concrete, is flanged and connected to a companion flange on the upper tube with 24 bolts. Water entered the void in the lower tube above the concrete. During an extended period of cold weather, the water in the void froze and expanded. It appears that the weld connecting the flange to the lower tube failed as a result of the upward pressure from the ice. The upper 7m tower tube, the cross arm and two combination sheave assemblies fell off the lower 9m tube. The result was a sudden detensioning of the haul rope with several 8 passenger gondola cabins coming into contact with structures on the ground. 53 passengers were riding the ropeway at the time of the incident.

Part 2: Requirement(s) of this safety order

All operators of circulating above surface passenger ropeways with either fixed or detachable grips are hereby ordered to inspect affected tower components, including tower bases, tower tubes, tower cross arms and tower splices on the installations for signs indicating the presence of water or ice inside these tower components. One example of a method that may be used to check for this condition is to use a “sounding test” by striking the side of the component with a ball peen hammer (a tower component with water or ice inside tends to exhibit a solid “dead” sound compared to a normal bell like tone). If you are unsure how to conduct these inspections please contact the manufacturer or a professional engineer licensed in BC for instructions. All affected towers must be inspected within four days of receipt of this order.

If any towers or related tower components are found to have water or ice in them, or the operator is unsure of what is inside of the component (e.g., concrete) the operator is hereby ordered to contact the manufacturer to determine what actions shall be taken to address the situation. If an operator finds any tower or tower related components which have been damaged by ice jacking, the operator is hereby ordered to remove those affected passenger ropeways from operation and notify the BC Safety Authority immediately. The manufacturer shall be contacted to provide repair procedures. Once repairs have been completed permission to return the passenger ropeway to service shall be requested from the BC Safety Authority.

Complete the attached response form and fax to the British Columbia Safety Authority New Westminster office (fax number 604-660-6661 c/o Greg Paddon) upon completion/verification that the above noted requirements have been complied with. Completed forms shall be received by the Provincial Safety Manager no later than December 31, 2008.

Part 3: Details of issue (if applicable)

This safety order is being issued to all passenger ropeway operators who operate circulating above surface passenger ropeways with either fixed or detachable grips.

Part 4: Details of ordering Safety Manager or Safety Officer – please read following page

I certify that I am authorized to issue this safety order in accordance with section 15 (d) of the Safety Standards Act or that I have been delegated this power under section 15 (g) of the Safety Standards Act.


Greg Paddon

Provincial Safety Manager, Passenger Ropeways & Amusement Devices                          Date: December 18, 2008




Safety Standards Act