Constructing and using ice roads in Ontario

For generations, Canadians have used river, lake, and sea ice covers to travel to their destinations, deliver freight, fish and hunt, and enjoy recreational pursuits. However, before working, travelling, and parking on the frozen surface of ponds, lakes, and rivers, you should recognize and address the hazards associated with this activity and take precautions to ensure that the ice cover can safely support the load.

 

Plan, assess, control

Planning for operations over floating ice covers requires a clear understanding of how the ice sheet must function to ensure a successful and safe project. This is especially important for constructors or employers who have no previous experience building ice covers.

The following considerations must be taken into account:

  • Load duration – The period of time that the load will be stationary on the ice cover
  • Ice cover type – Whether it’s freshwater lake ice, river ice, local flood ice, transported flood ice, or peatland ice
  • Load weights – The number and types of vehicles and equipment and their maximum gross vehicle weights (GVWs). Note: This may also include loads from foot traffic for special types of work.
  • Schedule and operating window – Timing of the start of construction and start of work on the ice cover as well as the operating window required for the work
  • Employer capability – Employer experience, equipment availability, and worker training
  • Hazard controls – Controls that reduce either the consequence and/ or the likelihood of a hazard. Choice of controls depends on the risk level, degree of operator control over the use of the cover, and the user’s exposure.
  • Route selection constraints – Site access, hydrology, and site permits.
 

Best Practices for Building and Working Safely on Ice Covers in Ontario (IHSA029)

This best practice guide provides a summary of current practices for construction and operation of transportation roadways and working platforms that rely on floating ice. It covers the basic steps for planning, design, construction, operation, and closure of an over-ice project while ensuring that a standard of care necessary to protect worker safety is the highest priority.

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