Video footage of Kelowna crane collapse appears to show obvious safety violations | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Video footage of Kelowna crane collapse appears to show obvious safety violations

This crane collapse killed five men in Kelowna Monday.
July 15, 2021 - 8:00 PM

Two videos posted on social media that show what appears to be the first section of the crane that collapsed in Kelowna being removed have riled a union representative concerned about worker safety.

One video on Reddit has the logo of StemmerCrane in one corner and the notation “First Section Coming Out” in the top of the video. Parts of it are repeated in a YouTube video that is narrated by a very critical commentator.

They show workers high above the ground without standard safety gear such as hard hats and tie offs.

That video can be seen here.

“From a union representative’s perspective and the training we do and the regulation that is out there, you need to be tied on,” International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 business representative, Frank Carr told today, July 15. He has viewed the video. “You need to wear a hard hat, safety glasses, gloves, safety clothing. When our members are being trained, we’re following regulations and we’re following proper protocol.”

Stemmer Construction out of Salmon Arm says on its website the Brooklyn apartment tower is one of its projects and it shows pictures of cranes.The Brooklyn project is where Monday’s crane collapse killed five men, including Eric and Patrick Stemmer.

The company phone rang without anyone answering today and no voicemail option was available when called. The website seems to have been taken down.

The Operating Engineers union succeeded in getting mandatory crane operator certification in place 20 years ago and an association called B.C. Crane Safety was created to oversee it. No one there would talk to about crane safety.

Carr is one of the few people associated with the industry who will talk to the media.

He’s trying to get mandatory certification put in place for the dangerous assembly and disassembly process for tower cranes, along with registration of those qualified.

The Kelowna crane was in the process of being dismantled when the top part fell. It’s one of the worst crane disasters in history.

READ MORE: Kelowna tower crane collapse one of the deadliest in recent memory

Carr said the commentary in the YouTube video is “not far wrong” and basic safety procedures don’t seem to have been followed.

“Wearing hard hats and safety gear is part of your workday,” he said. “People need to be safe. People need to follow regulations so they go home every day. There’s a lot of good regulation and, if you follow it, we all go home every day.”

Language advisory for video

Credit: YouTube

Most work sites of this size – the Mission Group, which is building the highrise, said there were more than 100 workers on site – usually have their own health and safety officers.

While the crane company was a subcontractor, it is still required to follow the site rules, Carr said.

“Most sites have their own safety people who are on site,” Carr said. “Management is responsible as well. Management will make sure that protocol will be followed through their supervisors and foremen."

He noted that WorksafeBC inspectors cannot be at all sites all the time to make sure safety rules are followed.

“My understanding is, whenever subcontractors go on any site, it’s still the rules of the general contractor that apply,” Carr said. “All the general safety rules that we work under apply whether you’re the general or the subcontractor or the worker, you need to follow the rules."

The union has a training centre in Maple Ridge that has been operating for decades and a state-of-the-art training facility in Texas run by the international union.

The Southern Interior Construction Association would not comment on safety rules governing construction sites in general.

WorkSafeBC has not made anyone available for an interview, despite repeated requests.

They did send a link to a Tower/Self-Erect Crane Pre-Assembly/Dismantling Requirements tool that contains three pages of checks-off with sign-off spaces for the owner, general contractor, assembly/dismantling supervisor and primary contractor.

But, in response to follow-up questions, WorkSafeBC refused to say whether this form is mandatory or if it had been filled out for this job.

“For the remainder of your questions on this specific case, we are not in a position to comment during an open investigation,” Andy Watson, media relations for WorksafeBC, wrote in an email.

He did send links to Occupational Health and Safety Regulations dealing with things like head protection and tie-off rules.

“Safety headgear must be worn by a worker in any work area where there is a danger of head injury from falling, flying or thrown objects, or other harmful contacts,” clause 8.11 (1) states.

“Unless elsewhere provided for in this Regulation, an employer must ensure that a fall protection system is used when work is being done at a place (a) from which a fall of three metres (10 ft.) or more may occur,” states clause 11.2 (1).

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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