Safety and Health

Performance Overview

  • Recordable incident rate remains stable; focus in 2013 on more effective hazard recognition
  • Employees achieved 11 million hours (361 days) between lost-time incidents; 5.9 million hours employee and contractor combined
  • Charged with six counts under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, relating to June 2010 incident; court hearings proceeding
  • Syncrude team overall winner at provincial mine rescue competition

Safety & Health Management System

We are committed to achieving year-over-year improvement in safety performance towards an injury-free workplace.

Towards this, Syncrude is in the process of fully implementing the ExxonMobil Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) as our primary tool for managing personnel and process safety, and workforce health. The new system is expected to be fully in place by the end of 2013. It focuses on identifying and managing hazards and regulatory compliance through more clearly defined work processes and workforce responsibilities.

Oil Sands Industry Injury Comparison

Data source: Oil Sands Safety Association (OSSA)

Incidents Highlight Need for Constant Diligence

In June 2010, a fire occurred in an operating unit at our Mildred Lake facility. Four contractors and one employee were injured in the incident. Syncrude was charged with six counts under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The case has not yet been resolved. We are committed to providing a safe workplace, and have applied the lessons learned by revising operating manuals and procedures.

The government completed their investigation into a second incident in 2010 when a contract worker was found unresponsive at a Syncrude construction site. The worker was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation concluded that, while the incident was work related, Syncrude’s safety procedures were appropriate and the company was not charged.

Emergency Response Preparation

Syncrude's emergency response personnel deal with many different kinds of situations. They prepare for these in various ways, including by participating in regional and national events that provide training in a competitive atmosphere. Their typically strong performance at these events demonstrates their proficiency to handle real-life situations. In 2012, a Syncrude team won the provincial mine rescue competition and will represent Alberta at the western Canadian championships in 2013.

Community Health Studies

The First Nations community of Fort McKay, which is adjacent to Syncrude’s Mildred Lake site, agreed in late 2011 to work with the Alberta government to identify the main health concerns of residents and the studies needed to assess the validity of those concerns. Community members have long had questions regarding the health effects of oil sands operations and the agreement should help provide definitive answers. The study began in 2012, with results expected in 2013.

Negotiations with the community of Fort Chipewyan for a similar agreement on health studies are continuing.

Syncrude takes seriously the health concerns of the surrounding communities, and supports enhanced scrutiny and transparency through the joint federal and provincial environmental monitoring program and the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA). 

Recognition for Safety Performance

Each year, Syncrude presents awards to encourage continuous improvement in safety performance throughout the organization and among contractor companies. These awards also enable the sharing of best practices and lessons learned. Three Syncrude suppliers – Aluma Systems, Acuren Group and Neegan – were recognized for having exemplary safety performance in 2012, while Klemke (KMC Mining) received the award for most improved performance.

In addition, Syncrude’s Base Plant Projects department and the Hydroprocessing Business Team received awards for excellent safety performance.

Safety and Health

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Employee lost-time incident rate
0.04 0.05 0.09 0.07 0.02
Contractor lost-time incident rate
0.10 0.03 0.04 0.09 0.05
Combined employee and contractor lost-time incident rate
0.07 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.04
Employee lost-time injuries (#)
2 3 5 4 1
Contractor lost-time injuries (#)
7 2 4 8 6
Combined employee and contractor lost-time injuries (#)
9 5 9 12 7
Employee total recordable incident rate
0.49 0.35 0.36 0.83 0.66
Contractor total recordable incident rate
0.63 0.37 0.47 0.70 0.80
Combined employee and contractor recordable incident rate
0.59 0.36 0.43 0.75 0.76
Employee recordable injuries (#)
26 20 21 48 36
Contractor recordable injuries (#)
44 29 43 66 97
Combined employee and contractor recordable injuries (#)
70 49 64 114 133
Syncrude injury severity rate
0.20 4.20 6.54 7.55 0.60
Contractor injury severity rate
6.26 0.95 4.18 11.92 2.52
Syncrude and contractor injury severity rate
3.63 2.32 5.09 10.26 1.92
Injury-free performance - maximum hours between LTIs (millions of hours)
11.7 14.3 13.1 10.9 5.9
Employee health - temporary disability absenteeism (% of Syncrude workforce)
3.9 4.3 3.8 3.9 3.6
Employee health - new long-term disability (LTD) cases (#)
21 14 22 32 28
Employee health - health centre visits (#)
16,164 18,202 15,025 16,088 14,049
Employee fatalities (#)
1 1 0 0 0
Contractor fatalities (#)
0 0 1 0 0
On-site responses by emergency services(#)
2,312 2,117 2,095 1,986 1,487
Off-site responses by emergency services (#)
123 104 72 68 82
EH&S professionals on staff (#)
137 136 107 97 118
Workforce respresented in formal joint management-worker H&S committees (i.e. safe operating committees)1 (#)
- - - 201 173
Health and safety convictions (#)
0 0 0 1 -
On-site workforce (#)
11,766 13,518 14,963 15,178 16,830
  1. Safe Operating Committees are a requirement of the Operations Integrity Management System currently being implemented throughout the organization; official tracking of participation began in 2011.

Safe Operating Committees are a requirement of the Operations Integrity Management System currently being implemented throughout the organization. Syncrude has always had safety committees; however, official tracking of participation began in 2011.

Syncrude adopted a new injury classification system in 2011. Under this, injury classifications include:

  • A lost-time incident is an injury / illness that requires medical attention and results in the worker being absent from work; lost-time incident statistics include all lost time injuries / illnesses and fatalities.
  • Total recordable incident rate includes all injuries / illnesses requiring medical attention, involving work restrictions, or that resulted in a worker being absent from work (recordable injury / illness statistics include all non-first aid injuries / illnesses); it is expressed as injuries / illness per 200,000 work hours.
  • Injury severity is the average rate of lost workdays per lost-time injury / illness; only lost-time injuries / illness have days lost.