March 20, 2013
Dangling worker rescued during late-night shift
WorkSafeBC issued a stop work order at a hotel in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, after a construction worker fell from an unsafe scaffold in the middle of the night and was left dangling outside the building.
According to the inspection report, WorkSafeBC received a late night call from the Vancouver Fire Department on March 13.
“The information reported by the fire department advised that the worker was rescued from the exterior of the building approximately at the six floor level,” said the report.
“The worker was suspended from his fall protection equipment.”
The incident happened at about 2 a.m. at the Regent Hotel.
A crew from Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services performed a high angle rescue, at the eight storey structure on East Hastings Street. They rappelled off the roof of the building to reach the man, secure his line and bring him down safely.
The worker wasn’t injured and refused medical attention after the rescue. When the man reached the ground, he was taken into custody by the Vancouver police because it is very odd for somebody to be working at that time of the day.
However, the police are no longer involved and the investigation has been taken over by WorkSafeBC.
An inspection of the site revealed a scaffold structure had been erected at the rear of the building in the back alley way.
The scaffold extended up to the seventh floor.
In addition, a handmade work platform was built on the west side of the structure extending about 20 feet in length at the six-floor level.
The scaffold was missing guardrails at both open ends.
Wood hoarding had been installed at the base of the scaffold, but was not being maintained. The wood was broken, which allowed access by any person to the site.
For this reason, the scaffold was found to be unsafe and not in compliance with Occupational Health and Safety regulation requirements.
As a result of the WorkSafeBC inspection, a stop work order was issued and the property owner contacted to rectify the deficiencies.
The Regent Hotel is owned the Sahota family, who are one of Vancouver’s most infamous landlords.
The Sahota’s own at least 10 properties in the downtown Eastside, which are some of the most dilapidated buildings in Metro Vancouver.
However, a database recently set up by the City of Vancouver to help tenants identify substandard rental housing, shows the Sahotas are responding to maintenance problems in their buildings.
For example, 290 maintenance issues were identified at the Regent Hotel between June and September 2012.
Only two of these issues still need to be addressed.
The Standards of Maintenance By-Law covers a wide range of building maintenance issues and sets standards for rental accommodations in Vancouver.
These can include issues such as inadequate heat and hot water, pest infestations, tripping hazards on stairs and hallways, and leaky faucets among others.
The Sahotas have been accused of allowing their buildings to fall into disrepair, by Downtown Eastside housing advocates, tenants, the police and city inspectors.
For example, the Sahota’s were issued the first fine against a landlord in B.C. by the Residential Tenancy Branch.
They were ordered to pay a $115,000 penalty for failing to fix a leak in the roof of a housing complex in Surrey.
The fine included a $5,000 one-time penalty, plus $500 for each of the 220 days of non-compliance since a June 2011 deadline.
The Sahota’s also own Pinewood Apartments on Pandora Street, which is a single-room occupancy hotel in the Downtown Eastside, which flooded after the roof collapsed.
In 2007, 36 former tenants were awarded a $170,000 settlement after they were ordered out of the unsafe structure.
The Sahotas’ Downtown Eastside hotels house tenants with mental illnesses and/or drug addictions, who can often cause serious damage to a room or building.
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