Wind Turbine Tower LiftsDoug Guderian
The higher wind turbines have specialty man lifts in the towers to take workers and maintenance staff up to the top. The province of Ontario is an interesting jurisdiction for the licensing and maintenance of the man-lifts installed in these wind turbine towers. TSSA (Technical Standards and Safety Authority) tightly regulates these devices and their installation and maintenance in Ontario. Those elevator contractors, who regularly do business in Ontario, know very well that Ontario and California are the two most highly regulated elevator markets in all of North America. Some Canadian jurisdictions, like Quebec, do not regulate these lifts at all since they do not consider the turbine towers to be buildings. In Ontario, however, the lifts fall under the jurisdiction of TSSA because they are used to transport people from one location to another where the riders exit the lift at the destination level.
What are the requirements for Lifts in Ontario?
It is a challenging time in Ontario as there is new pending legislation A17.1/B44-2013 Safety Code for Elevators. Until formally adopted, TSSA has temporary powers to enforce requirements. Elevator One’s engineering department can help you navigate these unsure waters. From our experience and interactions with TSSA, here is current best description of the process:
1. Equipment Requirements A: For any new lift designs coming into the Ontario Market, the lifts should be manufactured (and installed) in conformance with the A17.1/B44-2013 Safety Code for Elevators. It is expected that Section 5.11 of this code will soon be formally adopted into legislation to apply to wind turbine tower lifts in Ontario.
2. Equipment Requirements B: For lift designs that have been previously installed in the Ontario Market, there is a registered Standard Design submission on file at TSSA, which was developed in conjunction with each manufacturer by applying a combination of the existing manlift codes, elevator codes, suspended platform codes and best practices out of Europe. It seems that installing and inspecting to these standard design submission documents will continue to be acceptable until the new A17.1/B44-2013 Safety Code for Elevators comes into force. At that time, any new lifts and documentation will have to be upgraded to reflect the new, more stringent requirements.
3. Licensing Requirements: An engineering design submission must be completed by a Canadian Professional Engineer who is licensed to perform engineering services in the province of Ontario. This submission/conformance document must demonstrate conformance to the equipment requirements above. A design submission must be prepared for each individual elevating device and then registered and approved by TSSA’s engineers.
4. Installation Requirements: The lifts must be installed by a licensed EDM-A (Elevating Devices Mechanic – class A). The mechanic may utilize the assistance of one or more Mechanics-In-Training (EDM-T). These mechanic licences are administered and granted by TSSA for mechanics that have the required education and experience through the Ontario apprenticeship program. Each mechanic must continue to take the required continuing education courses to keep their licence current.
5. Initial Inspection Requirements: Once the lift is completely installed and pre-tested by the EDM-A elevator mechanic, the TSSA can be contacted to arrange for an initial inspection. Before coming, the inspector must know that the permanent power is on for the lift and that all of the construction work surrounding the lift is complete. Each lift must pass this initial inspection by a TSSA inspector, before the lift can be used by anyone other than the elevator mechanics. Please note that many lift electrical controllers do not have a CSA label and therefore the lift controller will require an Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) inspection and sticker before TSSA can licence the lift.
6. Maintenance Requirements: Lifts must be maintained annually by a licensed EDM-A mechanic. During this annual maintenance inspection, a full-load annual safety test must be performed on the lift as per sections 22.214.171.124.1-3 of the safety code. The rationale behind the requirement of annual full-load testing was that these lifts operate in uncontrolled environments where moisture and wide temperature variations often exist. An annual full-load test ensures that the key safety elements are still functioning as originally designed and have not been compromised by the environment.
7. Periodic Inspection Requirements: Lifts will be inspected approximately every 1 to 3 years by a TSSA inspector. Owners of lifts should expect to pay TSSA every year for the annual licensing fee of $100 as well as the periodic inspection fee of $130/hr when the inspections take place. The inspection typically takes 1.5 to 3 hours per elevating device depending on travelling time and ease of access to the actual devices to perform the inspections.
Can my own forces install and maintain the lifts in Ontario?
The short answer is yes, but it is not usually economically feasible and it takes a long time to get the appropriate installation licence permissions from TSSA. If employees or subcontractors of the owner want to regularly perform installation, service or repair work on wind tower lifts, they must first obtain a limited scope licence from TSSA. This process involves, at a minimum, hundreds of hours of in class training to the TSSA curriculum followed by the production of documentation to prove that the potential limited-scope-mechanic has the appropriate hours of field experience. The potential limited-scope-mechanic would then have to successfully pass TSSA’s written exam. Once licensed, this individual would have to meet all of the ongoing continuing education and licensing requirements of all Elevating Devices Mechanics in Ontario. As an organization you are reliant on one staff member who may choose to move on once all the training is done. For the above reasons, most tower or building owners, who try going down this road in Ontario, usually find that it is significantly less costly to find a good honest commercial elevator contractor to do the work for them. Dealing with all of the various changes in legislation and requirements for TSSA can also be very confusing for those who do not do it on a daily basis.
Some tower erectors have used a combination of EDM-A licensed elevator mechanics and their own forces, who receive EDM-T licences to work together to install the lifts. Any custom installation solution like this requires very close cooperation and communication between the elevator contractor and the tower erector to satisfy TSSA that safety is not being compromised.
Navigating the legislative requirements for wind tower lifts in Ontario is significantly more involved than in most other jurisdictions. In order to avoid many costly and time consuming issues, it is helpful to partner with a locally based commercial elevator contractor. Elevator One Inc. has invested a lot of time in the wind tower lift segment of the commercial elevator industry in Ontario and would be pleased to give advice in these areas. Elevator One is serious about serving the wind industry and is an active member of CanWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association). If you’d like further information Contact Us.