Contractors learn safety lesson after wind storm

Building contractors feel lucky to have learned a lesson without anyone being hurt after sections of a safety barricade fell from the 11th floor to the street during high winds on Tuesday afternoon.

Workers at Executive place remove a safety barricade from the roadway that blew off the building Tuesday during high winds at the site.

Workers at Executive place remove a safety barricade from the roadway that blew off the building Tuesday during high winds at the site.

Building contractors feel lucky to have learned a lesson without anyone being hurt after sections of a safety barricade fell from the 11th floor to the street during high winds on Tuesday afternoon.

Al Gamble, who is overseeing construction of RD Executive Place on Ross Street and 49th Ave. in Red Deer, said he toured the site on Wednesday and has spoken with safety people both at the site and in the head office of the construction company, Edmonton-based Clark Builders.

“It’s one of those freak accidents,” said Gamble.

He learned safety crews anticipating high winds had gone through the site beforehand and tied down all the pieces that they thought could blow loose.

They had tied down sections the barricade on the 11th floor, believing that the remaining sections did not pose any threat of coming loose.

“The other ones that went were completely unexpected,” said Gamble.

“The head safety person says this is one of those experiences you learn from. It was way beyond what they expected.

“We’re lucky that we can learn from this without anybody being hurt. No ifs and or buts. You can’t emphasize that enough.”

The only other pieces that came off were two small pieces of drywall, he said.

Investigators from Occupational Health and Safety have inspected the site and offered some advice to the contractor, said Gamble.

While the incident is under investigation, no stop-work order has been issued, said Chris Chodan, a communications officer with OH&S in Edmonton.

Chodan said provincial regulations require that objects on a site be secured, but does not prescribe how they are to be anchored or tied down.

Russ Pye, enforcement and building supervisor for the City of Red Deer, said the Inspections and Licensing department is not directly involved in construction projects.

“That would be an OH&S thing. We wouldn’t have any involvement,” he said.

Work continues on the 12-floor building, slated for completion early in 2010.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com