Oil-Sands Safety Roundtable: Injury prevention keeps companies productiveWritten by André Voshart Wednesday, 19 January 2011
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REM (sister publication to PEM)hosted this roundtable event to present you, our readers, with guidance and positive examples of safety leadership and ideas — to help companies of all stripes reach a top-line level of safety performance. Participants assembled in Fort McMurray, Alta., and discussed everything from the importance of developing and maintaining a vibrant safety culture to how a commitment to safety is just good business.
Alberta looks at the end result
Every province in Canada has its own health and safety legislation, so the discussed started off with a look at what, if any, differences existed between them. Brian Malloch, president of the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association of Canada (PEMAC), says there is very little difference. “If you’re familiar with one, you’re likely familiar and reasonably compliant with another.”
It comes down to nuances. Sheila Bailey, owner of Fort McMurray-based Bailey Technical Services, a health, safety and environmental consultancy, explains that Ontario legislation is more prescriptive while Alberta focuses on expected results. “Ontario prescribes when you need a joint health and safety (JHS) committee and what their duties are whereas the Alberta legislation is looking at the end result,” she says. “You have to take all precautions, showing your due diligence — and if one of the ways to do that is to have an active JHS committee and do workplace inspections, then that’s what we do because it is the best practices.”
Developing a safety culture
The driving force behind developing an improvement in injury prevention is visible leadership, a commitment to change and employee involvement with a proper accountability structure.
However, maintenance and operations departments have a high level of responsibility in keeping their workers safe. “The managers of both these groups probably have the highest number of people that are exposed to a hazard,” says David Robinson, vice-president of business integration improvement with FT Services Ltd. “There’s a lot of control and planning required to make that happen well and happen dependably well.” He mentioned that, historically, people used to die during confined space work and now it’s a rarity thanks in part to mitigating the risk through training and independent assessments.
“Creating that culture and passion around doing things really well and preparing things really well before you start is a real challenge for maintenance managers and for operations managers, and I’d say it’s especially difficult here [in Fort McMurray],” he continues. “There are a lot of good people here that are very passionate about the place, but every week there are thousands of people flying in and out of this region that don’t call it home.”
Published in Features