BC Crane Safety executive director Clinton Connell said previous crane incidents in the US and around the world had been debated before the tragic crane collapse in Kelowna on July 12th.
A recent crane collapse in Seattle on April 27, 2019, in which four people were killed and four others injured, spurred the industry to renewed discussion about crane safety, Connell said.
“The Seattle incident, which was so new, gave rise to discussions. This resulted in a pilot project in Vancouver, ”he said.
Connell added that a BC crane conference group had started before the Seattle incident and “after Seattle we had the next tower crane conference and the seeds were planted to do things differently.”
“We started the tower crane pilot project with the city of Vancouver in May 2021, and then came Kelowna,” he said.
“The first thing I did (when Kelowna happened) was tell the City of Vancouver that the pilot was no longer a pilot. There was an urgent need to put that program into the hands of health and safety managers the next day, ”said Connell.
The pre-assembly pilot is a collaboration between the City of Vancouver and BC Crane Safety and focuses on the safe assembly and disassembly of tower cranes through improved communication between the various stakeholders. The project includes a checklist that accompanies the permit applications for the assembly of a crane.
“The good thing about it is that it didn’t start from scratch or was said, ‘What do we do now?’ These talks had already started. “
The crane industry is small and tight, said Connell. As a result, the collapse of the Kelowna crane was “devastating”.
“Everyone knows each other and we feel each other’s pain,” he said.
BC Crane Safety has representatives from across the industry at the table, and the Kelowna incident alerted everyone that their issue is ready and ready to sit down with the provincial government and regulators.
“In the meantime, we will stick with the pilot but be proactive and not wait for regulatory changes to flow into work,” said Connell.
Connell suggested registration and certification for those able to assemble and disassemble cranes as a possible course of action.
“The operators of tower cranes are certified, so why not regulate assembly and dismantling?” He asked.
Connell compared cranes to aircraft engines in that an aircraft mechanic cannot know every engine and needs to be specialized.
“Manufacturer training is a big part of the crane world. It is so specialized that the training comes directly from the manufacturer, ”he said.
BC Crane Safety recently released an annual report and Connell said the Kelowna crane collapse did not change the report’s stated goals, which are “three years in a row.”
The Kelowna incident only reinforces what the industry is already working on, Connell said.
“Everyone has pretty solid ideas and everyone involved is sitting at the discussion table. If this incident leads to new regulations, it would take three to five years to implement a law change. We as an industry don’t want to wait three to five years, ”he said.
A registration system already exists, he added, and it can be modified and applied to crane assemblers and dismantlers.
BC Crane Safety also recently released new fall protection resources, including a fillable template and companion guide to help employers create a fall protection plan for their workers.
The template includes areas for a description of the project location, site-specific details for working at height, site details, types of fall protection systems and procedures, rescue procedures, and a review log.
“Tower cranes, window washers and high-pressure cleaners are all highly specialized jobs. WorkSafeBC is a wealth of resource, but it represents the full spectrum of work, ”said Connell. “Going into a library doesn’t always make sense when you just need a newspaper.
“We want to focus on these resources. Industry finances our existence and we want to make sure we have useful resources to use, especially when it comes to public safety, ”said Connell.
Follow the author on Twitter @JOCFrey.