Fourth B.C. crane incident spurs critical WorkSafeBC stakeholder meeting

Journal of Commerce | DCN-JOC News Services | March 5, 2024

VANCOUVER – A fourth mishap involving a crane has occurred in Vancouver, adding to a recent string of worksite crane incidents.

At approximately 12:40 p.m. on March 4 WorkSafeBC was notified of a workplace incident involving a crane at the 2600 block of Victoria Drive in Vancouver.

There were no injuries reported and a WorkSafeBC officer and senior engineer attended the site and issued a stop-use order on the crane, a release said.

A stop-work order was also issued for a section of the workplace until a qualified person has confirmed that it is safe for workers to re-enter. No further details were released about the nature of the incident.

“Multiple incidents involving cranes demonstrate that workplace safety can never be taken for granted. And while each of the recent incidents appears to be unique, employers are reminded of the need to be vigilant in ensuring the maintenance of their equipment and the safe working procedures of their staff,” said WorkSafeBC head of prevention services Todd McDonald in a statement.

The incident is the fourth involving a crane in a matter of months, with one incident at the Oakridge development resulting in the death of worker and mother Yuridia Flores. She died on Feb. 21 after a load fell from a crane. The other incidents involved cranes collapsing, with one incident occurring on Jan. 30 in Surrey and another in Burnaby, Jan. 26.

These incidents follow the tragic Kelowna crane collapse that occurred in July 2021, which resulted in the deaths of Cailen Vilness, Eric and Patrick Stemmer, Brad Zawislak and Jared Zook. Just one day before Flores was killed the RCMP announced they had asked prosecutors to consider charges in the deadly Kelowna collapse.

“Our thoughts and our deepest condolences go out to the family, co-workers and friends affected by the tragic death of Yuridia Flores. Incidents involving cranes can be catastrophic, and we are very concerned with the number of incidents that have occurred in such a short period of time,” McDonald said.

WorkSafeBC has indicated it is meeting with stakeholders to find solutions to the ongoing crane incidents.

Today (March 5) WorkSafeBC and BC Crane Safety are meeting with crane employers and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 to discuss a proposed regulation that will require employers to submit a Notice of Project for tower crane erection, climbing, repositioning, and dismantling, the release said.

In the next few weeks WorkSafeBC will also convene a meeting of industry and labour stakeholders to communicate current and planned crane safety initiatives as well as gathering outside perspectives on improving and prioritizing crane safety in B.C.

In 2019, following a Seattle crane collapse, WorkSafeBC refreshed its crane-initiative strategy based on the risks related to tower cranes, the release said, and identified primary risks during assembly/disassembly, operator qualification/competency, certification and inspection of equipment and risk of crane-to-crane or crane-to-voltage contacts. 

“We are constantly assessing areas of risk in the workplace and the measures in place to prevent workplace injuries,” McDonald said. “We monitor for industry trends and serious crane incidents around the world, and we are working with industry and workers to ensure B.C. has the right controls in place to keep workers safe.”

WorkSafeBC’s Crane Inspection Team conducted 968 inspections in 2023 as part of its planned provincial inspectional initiative, with approximately 350 tower cranes currently operating in B.C., the release said.

Crane operators are required to be certified in B.C. There are approximately 650 credentialled tower crane operators and over 500 self-erect tower crane operators registered in the province. Over the latest five-year period (2019-2023) there have been 22 incidents involving tower cranes in the province.