In response to the failure of a lift tower of Blackcomb's Excalibur Gondola in December 2008 due to ice jacking, the B.C. Safety Authority (BCSA) has issued new regulations intended to avoid a repeat incident. The accident, which happened on Dec. 16, caused injuries to 12 of 43 passengers riding the lift at the time of the collapse, based on information received during the investigation. Six of 33 cabins were also damaged when the top section of a tower separated from the lower section and fell to the ground.
The new regulations are:
1. All operators of passenger ropeway installations must assure towers are fitted with drain holes or have equivalent strategies in place to prevent the accumulation of water as required in the CAN/CSA Z98 standard.
2. Manufacturers must ensure the required inspection procedures, as described in the safety bulletins, clearly and effectively communicate all requirements to undertake an effective inspection.
3. Passenger ropeway contractors must verify the effectiveness of their internal communication processes to ensure that manufacturer’s safety bulletins are followed correctly by staff, and that the results of any inspections or tests are properly recorded and documented.
4. Manufacturers must ensure "as built conditions" are properly documented and transferred to the owner/operator as an integral part of the installation process.
BCSA will submit the findings of its report to the CAN/CSA Z98 Technical Committee for review and discussion of possible code changes. In addition, the B.C. Safety Authority will improve its internal communication processes to ensure safety officers are aware of and understand the safety bulletins issued by manufacturers, as well as improve the rigor of documenting this process.
Jason Gill, BCSA safety manager for passenger ropeways, has issued a safety order that mandates all lift towers in B.C. must have drain holes or other drainage systems in place by November 2010.
BCSA’s investigation into the Blackcomb tower failure showed that "ice jacking," which occurs when water in a lift tower freezes and expands, caused a tower to buckle. Water may have entered via a flame-cut bolt hole and/or a rectangular opening on the connecting plate, the BCSA report said