Safety and Health

Chapter 4.5

Safety and Health

    Performance Highlights

    • 39.7 million workforce hours expended in 2013 – the highest ever
    • Contractor worker fatally injured while working at Aurora mine
    • Employee committees established to identify and resolve safety and health issues

    Our Approach

    When it comes to worker safety and health, Syncrude’s ultimate objectives are that “Nobody Gets Hurt” and “Everyone Stays Healthy.” Toward these outcomes, Syncrude adopted ExxonMobil’s Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) in 2010. Through it, we expect to continuously reduce the frequency and severity of injuries and illness; enable workers to identify and remove hazards to prevent injuries; and engage all workers in following and enhancing safety rules, procedures and standards. Learn more about OIMS in the Management System chapter of this report.

    2013 Safety & Health Performance

    A field mechanic working for a Syncrude contractor company suffered a fatal injury on July 1st, while working at a construction site at the Aurora mine. We conducted an internal investigation afterward and immediately implemented several measures to improve worker safety. An investigation is being conducted by Alberta Occupational Health & Safety. No results have been released to date.

    The fatality was the low point of an otherwise strong year for safety performance, with Syncrude recording the lowest Combined Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) since adopting the ExxonMobil Incident and Injury Hazard Loss (IIHL) reporting guide in 2011. Syncrude’s Lost Time Injury Rate (LTIR) tied with 2012 as the lowest in our history.

    Recordable Injuries

    * Note: We enhanced our illness and injury classification and reporting system effective Jan 1, 2011. Occupational illnesses are now included in the Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) and the Lost-Time Injury Rate (LTIR).

    Assessing System Effectiveness

    OIMS assessments are one part of the ongoing evaluation to determine if system requirements are being met. External assessments, conducted by a group comprising representatives from ExxonMobil’s global operations and Imperial Oil, occur every three years. Internal assessments occur during the years in between. Assessors review how system requirements are documented and rolled out to staff, including communication and feedback. System effectiveness is also evaluated to ensure conformity, to determine if hazards are understood and addressed, and to learn if objectives are being met.

    Assessments also identify model practices that can be used at other sites and to provide a benchmark for measuring improvement. As well, they confirm whether or not issues from previous assessments have been addressed.

    All assessors undergo training that gives them the tools they need to understand the criticality, purpose and basic steps of OIMS assessments. They learn how to develop a factual, concise report using a risk-based approach that recognizes system gaps through interviews, documentation checks and field observations.

    2013 Oims System Results

    Syncrude’s 2013 assessments included 762 field interviews, including visits to 41 of 43 business units. Data was reviewed from incident investigations, emergency response plans, operations and maintenance procedures, risk assessments and work permits, to name a few. In addition, the assessment included physical “cold eyes” inspections of facilities and assets.

    Results highlighted the strong desire of employees to implement OIMS. Some very good management practices and several opportunities to improve overall implementation and performance were noted. Excellence in housekeeping was recognized in several worksites throughout the company’s operations.

    Audits And Recognition

    Our assessment process is an important tool to review health and safety performance, and it also helps us achieve provincial certifications that are critical to ongoing operations.

    A Certificate of Recognition, or COR, is issued by Alberta Occupational Health & Safety to employers who have implemented a workplace health and safety management system, and Syncrude maintained its COR in 2013. Syncrude is also one of seven Alberta companies participating in the Partnership Audit Standard Equivalency, which allows the use of existing information to avoid duplication of effort in gathering and auditing information. An independent audit is required every three years to renew the COR.

    Syncrude also participates in the Partners in Injury Reduction (PIR) program that encourages injury prevention and effective health, safety and disability management systems in the workplace. It is a voluntary joint effort by the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), Alberta Occupational Health & Safety, industry partners, safety associations, employers and labour groups. Participants believe the human and financial costs of workplace injuries and illnesses can be reduced when employers and workers build effective health and safety systems. As a PIR participant, Syncrude earned a reduction on our annual WCB premiums for the effectiveness of our systems. Syncrude renewed in 2013 our commitment to the program.

    Syncrude Safety Committees

    A new network of safety committees has enabled the two-way communication needed to convey safety information and address worksite safety and health concerns.

    The committees identify, discuss and resolve safety and health related issues, and share information and safety learnings that are relevant to the business teams. These issues may include environmental and equipment issues with a potential for injury or illness to personnel. The network includes:

    • Syncrude Safety Committees (SSC) – A forum for Syncrude employees to regularly engage with area management about personnel health and safety matters at the local level.
    • Business Area Safety Committees (BASC) – A forum to regularly discuss common personnel health and safety matters for business units with worker representation from the SSCs.
    • Personnel Loss Prevention Committee (PLPC) – A corporate-wide integrated forum for Syncrude management to regularly discuss health and safety issues and strategies with worker representation from the BASCs.

    In addition to sharing safety and health information, the Safety Committees ensure employees have a voice and the means to get issues resolved.

    Respiratory Protection Equipment Study Group

    Syncrude initiated in 2013 a multi-party study group to determine whether there are any available devices that could be used for respiratory protection in Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) work environments that pose a hazard to workers who are unable to achieve a proper seal when using traditional respiratory protection equipment. The group is to complete its study in 2014. Syncrude and other industry representatives committed to investigate alternative forms of protection to accommodate workers unable to use full personal protective equipment due to facial hair maintained for religious or medical reasons. Participating in the study group are various industry associations, Alberta Occupational Health & Safety and the World Sikh Organization.

    Regional Safety Initiative

    The Oil Sands Safety Association (OSSA) is a non-profit organization made up of representatives from Syncrude and three other developers, plus labour providers, unions, area contractors and learning providers. Its objective is to identify, develop and implement strategies and tools to create “an incident-free workforce.”

    In 2013, OSSA members agreed to implement a common set of basic safety rules and associated symbols across their work sites. These standard rules are based on the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) Life-Saving Rules and incorporate one additional rule specific to oil sands mining. Adopting a common set of safety rules positions OSSA for its next regional collaboration – to establish a basic safety orientation that will be used by all members.

    Safer Highways Coalition

    Syncrude is an active participant in the Coalition for a Safer 63 & 881, which was formed in 2010 to promote responsible driver behaviours on the two major roadways in the Wood Buffalo region. Between 2006 and 2010 there were 3,339 collisions resulting in 93 fatalities on these highways. The coalition’s goal is to engage drivers, help them identify potentially dangerous driving habits, and foster long-term behavioural change.

    In 2013, the Coalition implemented three educational campaigns (“Yawns over the limit,” “Big Loads on the Roads” and “The Pledge”) and participated in several community events. Its work is evolving from awareness to self-assessment, where drivers consider their contribution to the problem and change their behaviour.

    The coalition’s goal is to engage drivers, help them identify potentially dangerous driving habits, and foster long-term behavioural change.

    Safety and Health

     
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    Employee lost-time incident (LTI) rate 1
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    0.05 0.09 0.07 0.02 0.02
    Contractor lost-time incident (LTI) rate 1
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    0.03 0.04 0.09 0.05 0.05
    Combined employee and contractor lost-time incident (LTI) rate 1
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    0.04 0.06 0.08 0.04 0.04
    Employee lost-time injuries (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    3 5 4 1 1
    Contractor lost-time injuries (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    2 4 8 6 7
    Combined employee and contractor lost-time injuries (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    5 9 12 7 8
    Employee total recordable incident (TRI) rate1
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    0.35 0.36 0.83 0.66 0.71
    Contractor total recordable incident (TRI) rate1
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    0.37 0.47 0.70 0.80 0.71
    Combined employee and contractor total recordable incident (TRI) rate1
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    0.36 0.43 0.75 0.76 0.71
    Employee recordable injuries (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    20 21 48 36 38
    Contractor recordable injuries (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    29 43 66 97 103
    Combined employee and contractor recordable injuries (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    49 64 114 133 141
    Syncrude injury severity rate
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    4.20 6.54 7.55 0.60 2.25
    Contractor injury severity rate
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    0.95 4.18 11.92 2.52 5.45
    Syncrude and contractor injury severity rate
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    2.32 5.09 10.26 1.92 4.59
    Injury-free performance - maximum hours between LTIs (millions of hours)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    14.3 13.1 10.9 5.9 10.2
    Employee health - temporary disability absenteeism (% of Syncrude workforce)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    4.3 3.8 3.9 3.6 3.5
    Employee health - new long-term disability (LTD) cases (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    14 22 32 28 29
    Employee health and wellness – disability management visits (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    - - 11,905 16,505 15,151
    Employee and contractor health - health centre visits (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    18,202 15,025 16,088 14,049 14,262
    Employee fatalities (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    1 0 0 0 0
    Contractor fatalities (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    0 1 0 0 1
    On-site responses by emergency services(#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    2,117 2,095 1,986 1,487 2,032
    Off-site responses by emergency services (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    104 72 68 82 68
    SH&E professionals on staff (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    136 107 97 118 122
    Workforce respresented in formal joint management-worker H&S committees (i.e. safe operating committees) 1 (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    - - 201 173 281
    Health and safety convictions (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    0 0 1 0 0
    On-site workforce 3 (#)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    13,518 14,963 15,178 16,830 18,923
    Workforce hours (millions)
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    27.2 29.9 30.4 35.3 39.7

    1 Syncrude changed its illness and injury classification and reporting system effective January 1st, 2011. Occupational illnesses are now included in the Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) and the Lost-Time Incident Rate (LTIR).

    2 Safe Operating Committees are a requirement of the Operations Integrity Management System; official tracking of participation began in 2011.

    3 Full-time equivalent.

    Definitions:

    A lost-time incident is an injury/illness that requires medical attention and results in the worker being absent from work beyond the day of the injury/illness; 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.

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