A crane operator was killed after contacting power lines at a lane-way house construction site this morning, and the incident is raising questions about the safety of operating large machinery in the tight confines of alleyways.
The accident occurred at a site near 29th Avenue and Slocan Street, when a crane boom made contact with a 7.5 kilovolt power line.
The operator was electrocuted, and lumber surrounding the crane was still smouldering when emergency responders arrived. The man, who witnesses described as in his 60's and highly experienced, was pronounced dead at the scene.
WorkSafeBC is investigating, and are tasked with piecing together what exactly went wrong.
"Was there proper work planning? Was there proper training and supervision for this high-risk work activity? Were there any issues with the condition or maintenance of the equipment?" said Megan Johnston, spokesperson with WorkSafeBC.
This morning's accident was the third in Vancouver in only a few months. In September, a crane touched a power line and started a fire on West 12th Ave and in July, a worker was trapped in his cab after making contact with power lines.
Bill Watkins, an instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, says the tight quarters of a lane-way mean operators are even more exposed to the dangers of high voltage power lines.
"Electrocution is one of the main problems for crane operators because they work close to electrical power lines so often," he said.
Watkins told CBC News that there is a currently a severe shortage of highly skilled, certified crane operators in B.C. and that the growing popularity of lane-way homes presents increasing dangers to construction crews.
Construction at the site has been shut down until investigators have finished their work.