Seattle crane collapse draws scrutiny in Vancouver
A deadly crane collapse in Seattle over the weekend is highlighting the risk hundreds of cranes dotted around the Lower Mainland pose.
Four people died Saturday after a crane working on a building in Seattle's downtown core toppled. Authorities are working to determine if strong winds played a role in the collapse or if there was an issue with the crane itself.
Seattle has 60 cranes, more than any other U.S. city, but the Lower Mainland has around 250, with 300 in B.C.
"You can't look at the skyline without seeing a number of tower cranes dotting the sky," said Al Johnson, the vice-president of prevention services for WorkSafe BC.
WorkSafe formed a provincial crane inspection team in 2008 with a focus on making cranes a safe work environment and conducts annual inspections.
That same year, a 22-year-old crane operator was killed while working on the Canada Line.
In 2012 a construction crane collapsed on the Port Mann bridge but fortunately no one was hurt.
"They’re big pieces of equipment, they’re recognizable pieces of equipment, and they’re dangerous pieces of equipment," said Johnson.
The number of cranes has risen alongside Metro Vancouver's booming real estate industry.
"There's multiple cranes on smaller footprints," Johnson says. "So on one site today, you'll have a number of tower cranes, whereas years ago there was one crane per site."
The safety agency launched a three year initiative in January 2018 focusing on identifying and removing tower crane and construction equipment hazards or unsafe work practices.
Crane operators in B.C. must be certified, but a union notes that there's no certification for workers who disassemble the cranes.
"There's no standardized rigging training for people working around cranes, or that aspect," said Frank Carr, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115.
Two of the victims in Saturday's crane collapse were ironworkers, and Seattle authorities say they're opening an investigation into four companies: general contractor GLY, Northwest Tower Crane Service Inc., Omega Rigging and Machinery Moving Inc. and Morrow Equipment Co. LLC.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim