WorkSafeBC Home

WorkSafeBC recommending changes to improve crane safety in B.C.

Published on: June 18, 2024

New risk-reduction strategy is based on a comprehensive review of crane safety and informed by stakeholder input and feedback.

WorkSafeBC says the risks associated with cranes in B.C. are increasing as more cranes are in operation than ever before, and this work is taking place on increasingly complex, multi-employer worksites.

In 2021, a tower crane collapse in Kelowna took the lives of five workers, and earlier this year, several crane-related incidents occurred, including a fatal incident at the Oakridge Park worksite that claimed the life of a worker.

In March of this year, WorkSafeBC brought together 130 crane-sector stakeholders, including labour representatives, tower crane operators, employers, prime contractors, rental companies, and the BC Association for Crane Safety to identify and address gaps in crane safety.

“Following a comprehensive review of crane safety, and informed by stakeholder input and feedback, we’ve developed a risk-reduction strategy with recommendations aimed at further improving tower crane safety in B.C.,” said Todd McDonald, Head of Prevention Services for WorkSafeBC.

Key recommendations include:

  • Review the existing crane operator certification program to ensure it supports safe work.
  • Explore how to improve the training and skills of supervisors, riggers and workers involved in the assembly, operation, disassembly or repositioning of cranes.
  • Review options for employers responsible for the assembly, operation, disassembly or repositioning of tower cranes, including registration and licensing.
  • Increase the staffing and capacity of WorkSafeBC’s specialized crane inspection team.
  • Develop new regulations to address the frequency of tower crane inspections.
  • Review and update the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation — including regulations related to cranes and rigging — to ensure they meet the needs of increasingly complex worksites.
  • Ensure that the BC Association for Crane Safety is equipped to service and support workers and employers in the sector.

“Crane safety is a priority for WorkSafeBC,” said McDonald. “With a greater number of cranes operating in increasingly complex worksites, we need to ensure that employers provide the training, supervision and safe-work practices needed to keep workers safe in an evolving work environment.”

Next steps

In the weeks ahead, WorkSafeBC will be discussing these recommendations with the B.C. Ministry of Labour, SkilledTradesBC and industry stakeholders, including labour, employers, and the BC Association for Crane Safety.

“The BC Association for Crane Safety is actively partnered with WorkSafeBC and its prevention team in support of the enhanced crane strategy, ensuring safe and effective crane, hoisting, and rigging operations throughout the province,” said Clinton Connell, Executive Director of the BC Association for Crane Safety.

WorkSafeBC is also continuing to implement changes already underway as part of its crane safety initiative, which aims to identify and eliminate unsafe work practices and equipment hazards that have the potential to cause death, serious injury and/or catastrophic equipment failure.

Crane safety in B.C.

Tower cranes are complex pieces of machinery that are used for high-risk work at complex, typically multi-employer worksites. While cranes typically operate safely and without incident, they have the potential to create catastrophic risk to workers and the public.

Following the 2019 crane collapse in Seattle, Washington, WorkSafeBC conducted a systematic review of tower crane incidents through worksite inspections which led to several new controls (regulations) as well as shifts in WorkSafeBC’s inspectional approach.

This work was revisited in 2021 following a catastrophic crane collapse in Kelowna, which resulted in new tools and resources for industry, and new regulatory initiatives.

This spring, a new Notice of Project-Tower Cranes regulation was approved by WorkSafeBC’s Board of Directors. Under the new rules, which take effect in October, every employer responsible for a tower crane activity at a workplace in B.C. must ensure that WorkSafeBC receives a written notice of project (NOP) at least two weeks before the crane activity starts. The NOP will allow WorkSafeBC to know who is qualified to perform the work, as well as when, where, and how this work will take place.

There are approximately 400 tower cranes operating in B.C. In 2023, WorkSafeBC’s Provincial Crane Inspection Team conducted 1,200 detailed inspections of cranes.

More information:

About WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC engages workers and employers to prevent injury, disease, and disability in B.C. When work-related injuries or diseases occur, WorkSafeBC provides compensation and support to people in their recovery, rehabilitation, and safe return to work. We serve 2.7 million workers and 280,000 employers across B.C.

For more information, contact:

Media Relations, WorkSafeBC
Tel: 604.276.5157