Safety and Health

Chapter 4.5

Safety and Health

    Performance Highlights

    • Settlement on 2010 incident included $150,000 payment toward safety initiative
    • Safety performance improved for both employees and contractors
    • 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.

    2014 Safety & Health Performance

    Safety performance improved in 2014, with Syncrude recording the lowest Combined Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) since adopting a more stringent reporting standard in 2011.

    Settlement Reached on 2010 Incident

    Syncrude pleaded guilty to a single count under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in relation to charges stemming from a June 2010 fire in one of our plants that injured three workers. The settlement includes the payment of $150,000 to fund a new safety initiative from the Safety in Schools Foundation of Canada. The “Life Lessons – Learning the Hard Way” program will feature a speaking tour of 20 high schools by a young woman who lost her lower left leg in a workplace incident. The foundation will also use the funds to develop an online course available to all high school students across the province.

    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).

    Alberta Safety Benchmarking (Loss-time Incident Rate)

    Source: Alberta Occupational Health and Safety

    Oil Sands Safety Benchmarking (Total Recordable Incident Rate)

    Source: Syncrude, Oil Sands Safety Association (OSSA)

    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 and regulatory compliance, 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.

    2014 OIMS System Results

    Syncrude’s 2014 assessments included 700 field interviews, including visits to 34 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 increasing literacy of OIMS and strong leadership support. Some very good management practices and several opportunities to improve overall implementation and performance were noted.

    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. Due to the effectiveness of our systems, and as a participant in COR, PIR and the Partnership Audit Standard Equivalency (PASE), Syncrude in 2014 received a reduction on our annual WCB premiums of $411,000.

    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 use full personal protective equipment due to facial hair maintained for religious or medical reasons. Participating in the study group were various industry associations, Alberta Occupational Health & Safety and the World Sikh Organization.

    The group completed its study in 2014 and determined that there are currently no available alternatives approved for use in North America. However, one piece of equipment approved for use overseas, and in use on projects in the Middle East and Central Asia, was identified which might be suitable based on appropriate evaluation by individual employers seeking approval to use this equipment on their sites in Alberta. The report outlines a number of opportunities which include encouraging manufacturers to make changes to existing equipment, creating global standards, and working with regulators to accept or approve appropriate alternative methods proposed by employers.

    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.”

    n 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.

    In 2014, the Coalition launched an interactive digital map on its website to educate and raise awareness about the number of accidents and fatalities on both highways. The map simulation allows users to drive along each highway where they can learn about each incident that has occurred. The purpose is to highlight the number of incidents as well as encourage drivers to make smart choices before getting behind the wheel. The Coalition also implemented three educational campaigns (“The Pledge,” “Summer Distractions” and “Old Man Winter”) and participated in several community events.

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

    Safety and Health

    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    Employee lost-time incident (LTI) rate1
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    0.09 0.07 0.02 0.02 0.09
    Contractor lost-time incident (LTI) rate1
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    0.04 0.09 0.05 0.05 0.05
    Combined employee and contractor lost-time incident (LTI) rate1
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    0.06 0.08 0.04 0.04 0.06
    Employee lost-time injuries (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    5 4 1 1 5
    Contractor lost-time injuries (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    4 8 6 7 6
    Combined employee and contractor lost-time injuries (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    9 12 7 8 11
    Employee total recordable incident (TRI) rate1
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    0.36 0.83 0.66 0.71 0.56
    Contractor total recordable incident (TRI) rate1
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    0.47 0.70 0.80 0.71 0.62
    Combined employee and contractor total recordable incident (TRI) rate1
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    0.43 0.75 0.76 0.71 0.60
    Employee recordable injuries (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    21 48 36 38 30
    Contractor recordable injuries (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2009
    43 66 97 103 81
    Combined employee and contractor recordable injuries (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    64 114 133 141 111
    Syncrude injury severity rate
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    6.54 7.55 0.60 2.25 4.60
    Contractor injury severity rate
    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
    4.18 11.92 2.52 5.45 2.44
    Syncrude and contractor injury severity rate
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    5.09 10.26 1.92 4.59 3.07
    Injury-free performance – maximum hours between LTIs (millions of hours)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    13.1 10.9 5.9 10.2 10.7
    Employee health – new long-term disability (LTD) cases (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    22 32 28 29 21
    Employee and contractor health – health centre visits (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    15,025 16,088 14,049 14,262 13,349
    Employee fatalities (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2009
    0 0 0 0 0
    Contractor fatalities (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    1 0 0 1 0
    On-site responses by emergency services (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    2,095 1,986 1,487 2,032 1,698
    Off-site responses by emergency services (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    72 68 82 68 96
    SH&E professionals on staff (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    107 97 118 122 104
    Workforce respresented in formal joint management-worker H&S committees (i.e. safe operating committees)2 (%)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    100 100 100 100 100
    Health and safety convictions (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    0 1 0 0 1
    On-site workforce3 (#)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    14,963 15,178 16,830 18,923 17,532
    Workforce hours (millions)
    2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    29.9 30.4 35.3 39.7 37.0

    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.

    3 Full-time equivalent.


    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.


    Fill out my online form.
    HTML Forms powered by Wufoo.

    Download a PDF of this topic's detailed information

    Download PDF


    Go to the PDF Builder to create your own custom report.

    Go to PDF Builder

    View Next Section: