The BC Factory Engineers Union is calling on the province to introduce mandatory crane assembly and dismantling rules following an industrial accident that killed five people in Kelowna on Monday, July 12th.
The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 115 said it has been campaigning for mandatory certification of tower crane operators and improved industrial safety standards for nearly two decades.
The union said there are around 280 cranes in use in BC and often erected and dismantled under tight deadlines.
“We urge the British Columbia government to make mandatory training and certification of workers involved in the erection and dismantling of tower cranes, minimum qualification standards and a directory of people involved in this industry,” said Brian Cochrane, executive director of IUOE Local 115.
“It’s a shame that sometimes major incidents like this are required to get government regulatory action.”
It’s unclear what brought the crane down in Kelowna on Monday. Five people were killed in the incident, and the last man’s body was only recovered from the rubble on Tuesday night around midnight. The effort required a specialized team from Vancouver.
Four of the dead were site workers, including the crane operator, while the fifth was working on an adjacent building. Another man was taken to the hospital but has since been released.
The RCMP are investigating to make sure the breakdown was not a criminal, and an investigation by WorkSafeBC will also determine what happened.
Union officials have met with the City of Vancouver Engineering Department and formed a task force involving the city, the Factory Engineers Union, BC Association for Crane Safety, contractors and industry representatives to review tower crane safety regulations.
The working group has led to the implementation of several safety recommendations as part of a pilot project in the city of Vancouver, including meetings before and after assembly and checklists, complete lane closures for vehicles, bicycles and pavement closures for pedestrians, better traffic control, assembly and dismantling of Tower cranes, larger preparation and mobile crane installation areas as well as permit extensions and additional full days for crane assembly and dismantling.
115 local company representative Frank Carr said public engagement and education must also be part of any safety plan.
“Not only do we need to advocate stricter rules to make crane construction sites safer, but we also need to educate the public about the dangers above,” said Carr.
“People don’t look up. Why should they They are busy with their day and are happy when they walk down the street without knowing what is happening above them, without knowing that they could hurt or kill if something falls on them. “
READ MORE: Specialized rescue workers recover fifth man’s body after crane collapse in Kelowna
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