B.C. union calling for mandatory crane certification
By Adam FreillConstruction Equipment Health & Safety
IUOE Local 115 sounds alarm in the crane industry following two safety incidents in a span of just four days.
The union representing hundreds of crane operators across British Columbia is calling for mandatory certification for its industry.
The call comes after IUOE Local 115 responded to a call on January 30 regarding a crane incident on the corner of 105 Ave. and King George Blvd. in Surrey, B.C., just days after a crane collapsed on a site in Burnaby, B.C., causing the closure of part of Lougheed Hwy in Burnaby.
“We don’t know the exact cause of these incidents, but we do know in an industry with no real regulation, mandatory training or contractor licensing, these incidents keep happening,” explained IUOE Local 115 business manager, Brian Cochrane. “We’re glad no one was seriously hurt or killed. Today was a disruption; tomorrow it could be deadly.”
Anytime there is a crane incident in B.C., the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 responds on behalf of the industry. IUOE Local 115 has been advocating for provincial training and certification of crane operation and rigging personnel to meet the highest standard in Canada for the better part of more than two decades, but the union says B.C. continues to fall short of that expectation.
“When the tower crane collapsed in Kelowna on July 12, 2021, killing five workers, that should have been the trigger for B.C. to be the leader in tower crane safety across Canada, and we aren’t,” said Josh Towsley IUOE Local 115 assistant business manager. “Two incidents in four days is a clear demonstration that we need stronger regulations in our industry.”
The union is recommending that the government and industry recognize tower crane operation and rigging as a compulsory trade and require training and certification for all crane workers in B.C.
It also wants to ensure provincial training and certification of crane operation and rigging personnel meets the recognized highest standards in Canada, with B.C. leading the nation.
The local added that it would like to see mandatory licensing of contractors who work in the assembly, climbing, repositioning, and disassembly of tower cranes, and the development of minimum levels of training for workers who work in the assembly, climbing, repositioning or disassembly of tower cranes.
“These two incidents should be a wakeup call for the industry and government,” said Towsley. “The B.C. Liberals tried to deregulate the industry a long time ago, and despite our best efforts to make improvements to safety, the legislation does not have enough teeth.”
In 2021, IUOE Local 115 and industry stakeholders actively worked with the City of Vancouver to establish a crane safety pilot that included such reforms as pre- and post-assembly meetings and checklists; full lane closures and better traffic control; larger staging and mobile crane set-up areas; andpermit extensions for crane assembly and dismantling to reduce pressure on workers to get the job done under tight timelines.