WorkSafeBC refuses to release Kelowna crane collapse report but still making changes | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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WorkSafeBC refuses to release Kelowna crane collapse report but still making changes

Even though the RCMP has finally wrapped up its investigation into the 2021 fatal Kelowna crane collapse, WorkSafeBC won’t release its own report on the tragedy.

In May of last year, almost two years after the crash, WorkSafeBC announced it had completed its report but would not release it out of concerns it might “jeopardize the ongoing and concurrent criminal investigation.”

READ MORE: WorkSafeBC investigation into fatal Kelowna crane collapse complete

Earlier this week, the RCMP announced its investigation was finished and they were asking BC Prosecution Service to consider charges of criminal negligence causing death in the July 12, 2021 collapse that claimed the lives of five men.

“WorkSafeBC will not be releasing its incident investigation report into the Kelowna crane collapse, at this time, to ensure it does not affect the charge assessment process,” WorkSafeBC wrote in an emailed response to a request from for that report.

“It is important to emphasize that, although the incident investigation report is not being released, WorkSafeBC has continued to incorporate key learnings from the investigation into our ongoing crane safety initiatives, including for tower crane operation, assembly, disassembly, and repositioning,” it added.

READ MORE: Grieving father of worker killed in Kelowna crane collapse calls for immediate action

Coincidentally, an email was sent to from William Mastop, a former lawyer who is currently working as a construction safety manager.

“This event has really struck home and has created some big differences in terms of how things are done,” he wrote. “I wanted you, and perhaps the public, to be aware that WorkSafeBC is making some changes as far as cranes go.

“In the Kelowna area now WorkSafeBC expects to be notified of tower cranes going up or coming down. They also expect the general contractor to actually be asking some of the real questions prior to the job starting.”

Those include things like who is going to be working on the cranes, what experience they have, who the foreman is and his level of experience along with the safety record of the contractor and workers.

“A general contractor that is not asking these questions, and making a record of the answers, should be very well aware that they may face potential criminal liability if something goes wrong,” Mastop wrote.

He also included a list of draft amendments to the section (14) in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations dealing with tower cranes.

Those drafts, if adopted, will require only qualified supervisors and workers to be used for “the erection, climbing, repositioning and dismantling” of tower cranes.

WorkSafeBC’s explanatory notes about the changes say that, currently, companies do not have to submit a Notice of Project to let them know the cranes are going up.

“WorkSafeBC inspections of these crane activities only occur if a safety officer happens to know they are taking place in their area or they come upon it by chance,” the explanation says. “Given the nature of these activities, WorkSafeBC needs to know who will perform the work, as well as when, where and how this work will take place.”

That notice will have to be given at least two weeks prior to work starting and it stipulates a long list of required information, including the names of all workers and their qualifications.

“The proposed definition for ‘qualified supervisor’ states a supervisor for tower crane erection, climbing, repositioning, or dismantling must be qualified for the specific crane activity and the particular tower crane,” the explanation says. “This definition addresses the possibility that a supervisor may be qualified for one type of crane or activity but not for other types. Different supervisors may be needed for different cranes or crane activities.”

Public input on the draft amendments wrapped up Jan. 12 and the proposed changes will go to the WorkSafeBC Board of Directors for consideration this spring.

READ MORE: Safety a priority following worker's death in Vancouver crane incident: mayor

There are about 350 tower cranes working in BC. There were two incidents of partial crane collapses in the Lower Mainland in late January and, earlier this week, a person was killed when a tower crane working in Vancouver dropped its load.

See more on the proposed changes here.

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