VICTORIA – A union that successfully campaigned for crane operator certification in 2007 is calling on local governments and BC Province to demand better safety practices when assembling and disassembling equipment.

The call comes after the fatal crane collapse in Kelowna on Monday, the cause of which is still being investigated.

Frank Carr, sales representative for the International Union of Operating Engineers local 115, offered condolences to the five people who lost their lives when he urged the need to regulate work.

“It’s a tragedy and we’ve been campaigning and lobbying for regulatory changes for nearly 20 years,” Carr said in an interview with CTV News Vancouver.

In collaboration with the union, the city of Vancouver launched a pilot project earlier this year. It includes more time to work, better traffic control, and larger staging areas. Carr said it was a good start when he asked the province to do more.

“It’s complicated and highly specialized,” he said. “That’s why we’re calling on the government to mandate training and certification for workers in this industry.”

Carr said that each section of a crane can weigh tens of thousands of pounds while the entire machine can weigh hundreds of thousands. And cranes get bigger and more complex over time, he said.

In an email to CTV News, WorkSafeBC described the current rules for dismantling a crane.

“The dismantling of the tower crane must be carried out by a qualified (uncertified) person and according to the instructions of the crane manufacturer or a professional engineer,” said the agency.

BC Secretary of Labor Harry Bains was not available for an interview. Instead, he released a statement that read in part:

“It would be inappropriate for the government to presume the cause of this five-killed incident while we await the results of multiple investigations by the BC Coroners Service, RCMP and WorkSafeBC.”

The statement went on to say that once these results are in, the province will take preventive measures.

When asked why the work is currently unregulated, Carr cited a lack of awareness of the subject.

“It’s not important for everyone,” he said. “After this disaster, if we don’t get these changes now, we will unfortunately not get these changes.”