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Industry Perspectives Op-Ed: Complying with new anti-collision regulations for B.C. tower cranes

Mark Klassen
Industry Perspectives Op-Ed: Complying with new anti-collision regulations for B.C. tower cranes

This month WorkSafeBC will implement new regulations for tower cranes in B.C. that will require the use of anti-collision/zoning systems. While news of this decision is welcomed by many in the industry, the timeline for bringing the equipment into compliance remains a top concern. Part one of this story dove into the regulations themselves and how the industry may adapt. Part two examines how compliance can be achieved.


The practical steps to compliance for WorkSafeBC’s new anti-collision regulations will be the same for all companies in the tower crane industry.

First, they will need to have their cranes evaluated to determine whether the factory schematics match their current configuration. If the electrical panel is compatible and unmodified, then they can proceed to installation of a new zoning system and subsequent approval from an engineer.

However, if modifications have been made, they will need to be documented and approved. This may require the work of an electrical engineer. In certain cases, schematics will need to be completely redrawn to bring them into compliance. Only after the electrical schematics are approved will there be an occasion for installation and final approval of the zoning system.

At this stage, it appears that there are few companies within the tower crane industry that are fully prepared to meet these requirements.

“The timeline is tough,” said Stewart, “and some companies will scramble. But it will depend on how WorkSafeBC handles this. What approach will they take? How will they enforce the new regulations?”

Engineering companies like Stewart’s Arsenal Engineering will do what they can to assist.

 “We’re currently learning about how these zoning systems work,” said Stewart. “We will be able to give approval on certain steps to compliance. We can approve installations on newer machines, sort of like a regulatory review. But we are not able to meet the demand of all the electrical engineering that is required for the compliance of older cranes.”

Burton estimated about half of B.C.’s tower cranes would require significant effort to bring into compliance, which represents a colossal amount of work. He agreed with Stewart’s assessment of the need for qualified personnel.

“Finding electrical engineers who know cranes is not easy right now,” he said, “especially those who are willing and ready to go up 500 feet in the air to work on a tower crane that is already in operation.”

Burton has worked hard to secure an electrical engineer that will specifically help Bigfoot with anti-collision/zoning systems. In time, he hopes that Bigfoot will be able to offer a service to other companies to help bring them into compliance.

However, concerning Bigfoot’s ability to meet the March deadline, Burton expressed caution. “We may have a portion of our fleet ready, but we will not be fully prepared. The timeline may be sufficient to get zoning systems installed, but the engineering will take much longer, maybe two to three years.”

As part of the process, Burton also noted Bigfoot has entered into partnership with one of the world’s largest manufacturers of zone control and anti-collision systems, AMCS Technologies, a French company that has been a global leader in construction safety devices since 1994 and produces what Burton considers to be the best zone control product for cranes in the market.

From the standpoint of BC Crane Safety, Connell is concerned about ensuring uniform messaging to all industry stakeholders.

“WorkSafeBC is the regulator,” reminded Connell. “We just want to make sure that feedback from the industry is being heard by the regulator, and that everyone has the resources that they need to move forward toward compliance.”

BC Crane Safety will continue to facilitate conversations between the various stakeholders like WorkSafeBC, the crane industry itself, and the engineering community, as well as the vendor community that provides installation of the anti-collision/zoning systems.

“I don’t want to trivialize this process of complying to regulations,” Connell said in conclusion. “This is a challenge. We realize that crane owners are being asked to do something that they haven’t had to do in the past. So, we’re trying to help them through that challenge.”

Connell also reiterated the fact that he was not hearing any negative voices in the tower crane industry about whether these devices were a good idea or not. The consensus is that the anti-collision/zoning systems are valuable and necessary. The road to industry-wide compliance, however, is yet to be travelled.

Still, industry professionals like Connell, Burton, and Stewart are confident that, in the end, the industry will adjust to these new regulations.

Connell offered the helpful analogy of GPS systems and backup cameras in vehicles.

“At first, they were a luxury,” he said. “They were just an aftermarket upgrade that anyone could do to their vehicle. But now, GPS systems are standard and backup cameras are required by law in new cars.”

If Connell and his colleagues are right, it will only be a matter of time that anti-collision/zoning systems will be standard in tower cranes. WorkSafeBC’s new regulations are certainly pointing the industry in that direction.

However, on the road to full compliance is also the matter of having all changes or modifications to cranes approved by the OEM or a professional engineer. The question remains whether B.C.’s tower crane industry will be able to comply with that requirement.

This article was written by Mark Klassen on behalf of Bigfoot Crane Company. Send Industry Perspectives Op-Ed comments and column ideas to

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