3rd crane incident in 2024 shows workplace safety can ‘never be taken for granted’: WorkSafeBC

By Charlie Carey and The Canadian Press

The death of a worker when a load from a crane fell on a building under construction in Vancouver’s Oakridge neighbourhood Wednesday has WorkSafeBC reminding employers of the importance of a safe working environment.

In a statement to CityNews, WorkSafeBC says Wednesday’s tragedy is the third incident involving a crane at a worksite so far in 2024.

“The three incidents demonstrate that workplace safety can never be taken for granted, and while each of the three recent incidents appear 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 Ashley Gregerson with the oversight body.

The incident, which happened around 3 p.m., initiated a stop-use order on the crane, and a stop-work order on the Oakridge Park site, Gregerson said.

Those orders were put in place to ensure the safety of the rest of the worksite. WorkSafeBC is now investigating the cause of the incident, “as well as any contributing factors, so that a similar incident can be prevented from happening in the future,” Gregerson added.

“While we are unable to discuss specific details of the investigation, any findings that would improve workplace safety will be incorporated into our educational materials and our inspections,” she added. “While it may take some time, at the end of the investigation, a full investigation report will be produced.”

The union which represents operators in the heavy construction industry described Wednesday’s tragedy as “indeed a sad occurrence for our industry.”

“Our thoughts are with the workers on the site and the families of those affected, ” said Brian Cochrane, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 business manager.

“This serves as a reminder of the need to improve the regulatory environment to the highest level along with adequate enforcement.”

A statement from Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim says officials are committed to ensuring the safety of everyone working on construction projects in the city, and they will “continue to work diligently to prevent such tragedies in the future.”

Matthew Trudeau with Vancouver Fire Rescue Services confirmed the fatality hours after the load fell Wednesday afternoon, striking the building about 25 storeys up.

The identity of the person killed has not been publicly announced.

Dustin Luchka, a spokesman for the construction company EllisDon Corp., says operations at the site had been halted on Thursday.

The company would not release further details about the incident or the victim out of respect for the worker’s family and in light of the ongoing investigation.

“We genuinely wish to extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family, friends and colleagues of the individual who was involved,” says the statement from Luchka.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic event and will do absolutely everything possible to understand why it happened.”

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