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Vancouver damaged crane latest in string of similar incidents this year: safety officials

Click to play video 'Bent construction crane shuts down Vancouver street to traffic' Bent construction crane shuts down Vancouver street to traffic
A construction crane incident forced the closure of Drake Street in downtown Vancouver Thursday as Worksafe BC investigated.

A damaged crane that shut down traffic in downtown Vancouver Thursday is just the latest in a string of similar incidents this year, according to WorkSafeBC.

The agency’s vice president of prevention services Al Johnson says between July 1 and Nov. 1, there were 22 incidents involving cranes in B.C.

Of those, Johnson says 58 per cent were due to operator error, while 37 per cent were blamed on mechanical failure. The remaining five per cent were linked to control error.

READ MORE: Traffic disrupted, WorkSafe investigating after crane damaged in downtown Vancouver

“We are fortunate these incidents in many cases are contact with another crane or power line, and no or minimal injuries resulted,” he said.

It’s still not clear exactly what happened at the worksite on Howe Street near Drake Street.

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A spokesperson for Onni Group, the contractor for the site, said crews “experienced issues with the crane” during morning safety checks.

Pictures from the scene showed a bent steel strut in the bottom of the crane’s jib arm.

Click to play video 'N.S. government lifts localized state of emergency following removal of collapsed crane' N.S. government lifts localized state of emergency following removal of collapsed crane
N.S. government lifts localized state of emergency following removal of collapsed crane

Traffic was closed on Howe Street as a precaution as crews from the city and WorkSafeBC descended on the site.

The city said Friday the street remains shut down between Drake Street and the Granville Bridge, and the worksite itself has not reopened.

WorkSafeBC says it is working with Onni to remove the damaged crane, and the site will remain closed to all work until that happens.

READ MORE: One man dead after construction crane incident in Vancouver

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Johnson says there are roughly 300 tower cranes active in the province, with about 250 of them in the Lower Mainland.

He adds more cranes are being used as taller and taller buildings are erected in Metro Vancouver and other urban hubs, creating the potential for more incidents like Thursday’s.

“These are complex pieces of equipment working on complex worksites and incidents can occur,” he said.

“I think in the industry the taller the building the more challenging to get equipment up to those higher floors,” he added. “So cranes need to be taller and that is part of what is happening worldwide today.”

—With files from Simon Little