Safety and Health

Toward a safe workplace, we engage all employees in the awareness, understanding and adoption of safety rules, procedures and standards, and enable them to identify and remove hazards and risks that could cause injuries.

Our Performance

Safety and Health Graphic 2

Lost-time injury rate of 0.02

is best ever performance.

Syncrude recognized with

Canadian Institute of Mining safety award.

Safety and Health Graphic 3
Safety and Health Graphic 1

Total recordable injury rate

the lowest in 5 years.

Our Approach

Syncrude’s goals are “Nobody Gets Hurt” and “Everyone Stays Healthy”. Toward these outcomes, our Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) engages all employees in the awareness, understanding and adoption of safety rules, procedures and standards, and enables them to identify and remove workplace hazards and risks that could cause injuries. OIMS effectiveness is assessed through both internal and external reviews.

An integral component of our management approach is a network of safety committees that identify, discuss and resolve safety and health related issues, and which share information and safety learnings with our business teams. These groups represent every area of the company and ensure employees have a voice and the means to get issues resolved.

Safety & Health Performance

Syncrude’s total recordable injury rate was 0.49 in 2015. While this was the lowest in five years, 15 employees and 45 contractors sustained recordable injuries. Our lost-time injury rate of 0.02 was our best ever performance on this measure and first aid occurrences (234) also were the lowest in our history.

Total Recordable Injuries

New Loss Prevention System

Toward improving personnel and process safety, we have adopted the internationally-recognized Loss Prevention System (LPS) which uses behaviour-based tools and management techniques to prevent and reduce losses. The tools help identify and eliminate factors and behaviours that lead to losses, and help determine what caused or contributed to an incident. While safety improvement is its primary intended benefit, the system also focuses on preventing operational inefficiencies, reliability and quality issues.

A number of early successes in its implementation are encouraging; program leaders have noted worker openness to change, and departments have become more proactive in making changes before incidents arise. Worker training and coaching about the system will continue into 2018.

Alberta Safety Benchmarking

Oil Sands Safety Benchmarking

Source: Syncrude, Oil Sands Safety Association

OIMS System Results

OIMS effectiveness is assessed continuously through various feedback mechanisms. Formal internal assessments occur annually, with external assessments by representatives from a Syncrude Joint Venture Participant every three years. Syncrude’s 2015 assessments comprised 846 employee and supplier/contractor field interviews, including visits to 33 departments. Data was reviewed from incident investigations, emergency response plans, operations and maintenance procedures, risk assessments and work permits, to name a few.

Results highlighted continuous improvement in Syncrude’s performance in the areas of safety, health, environment and security, and noted a strong internal system assessment process and successful embedding of the OIMS culture within the organization. The focus for 2016 is to identify and address high priority gaps, and enhance communication and alignment among business teams and OIMS sponsors and administrators.

Source: Syncrude, Alberta Occupational Health and Safety

Safety and Health

Process operators in the upgrading operation.

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 that meets provincial standards. Syncrude maintained its COR after an independent audit in 2015.

Syncrude 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. Due to the effectiveness of our systems, and as a participant in COR, PIR and the Partnership Audit Standard Equivalency (PASE), Syncrude in 2015 received a reduction on our annual WCB premiums of $300,000.

The Canadian Institute of Mining recognized Syncrude’s mining, tailings and lease development teams with the 2015 John T. Ryan Regional Safety Award for achieving the lowest reportable injury rate in the select mines category. For more information, click here.

Safety Focus on Short-service Workers

A safety program introduced in 2015 focuses on contractor workers with little or no experience on Syncrude sites. The program recognizes that each oil sands site presents specific risks to workers who are new to the area. To guard against these, such workers now wear green hard hats so others can identify them and provide assistance on such matters as policies, practices and behaviours. Short-service workers are also now assigned a mentor/coach and must complete various proficiency assessments over time before they become fully site oriented.

Syncrude Safety Summit

Syncrude in 2015 once again convened its annual Safety Summit, bringing together about 200 senior leaders from our organization, supplier companies and building trades associations. The group sought to understand what pace-setting organizations do to achieve and sustain outstanding safety performance, and focused on the role of leaders in engaging the workforce toward committing to and achieving desired safety outcomes. The group reviewed past performance and causal factors of injuries, and also learned about the Loss Prevention System now being implemented across the company. Leader accountability was a key theme.

As part of the annual summit, Syncrude takes the opportunity to recognize suppliers and internal departments for outstanding safety performance and demonstrated leadership. Honours for 2014 performance went to:

  • Aluma Systems – Best Overall Contractor Safety Performance, large company
  • Fort McKay Group of Companies – Most Improved Contractor Safety Performance, large company
  • Terracon Geotechnique – Best Overall Contractor Safety Performance, small company
  • Acden Bee Clean – Most Improved Contractor Safety Performance, small company
  • Syncrude Aurora Utilities & Offsites – Best Overall Safety Performance, business team
  • Syncrude Aurora Dumps & Structures – Most Improved Safety Performance, business team
  • Syncrude Major Projects Execution – Best Overall Safety Performance, support organization
  • Syncrude Procurement – Most Improved Safety Performance, support organization

Emergency Response Excellence

Syncrude hosted two competition events for emergency responders in 2015. These are a showcase for our personnel to demonstrate their skills proficiency.

The Scott FireFit Championship for northern Alberta brought together about 70 professional firefighters from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and local oil sands operations, including 23 from Syncrude. Syncrude scored gold medals in industrial relay, ages 40+ relay and ages 40+ individual.

The Alberta Mine Rescue Competition brought together more than 50 competitors. The events gave participants the opportunity to practise important lifesaving and firefighting skills in a competitive environment.

Regional Safety Initiatives

Through the Oil Sands Safety Association (OSSA), Syncrude and other oil sands industry partners continued work to align safety training requirements for contractor workers. The goal is to reduce training redundancies and allow contractor workers to move easily and safely among oil sands sites. In 2015, two new mandatory pre-site access training courses were introduced, as were new regional Life Saving Rules, all of which have been adopted by Syncrude. OSSA is a non-profit organization comprised of representatives from Syncrude and three other developers, plus labour providers, unions, area contractors and learning providers.

Also, Syncrude continued to be an active participant in the Coalition for a Safer 63 & 881, formed in 2010 to promote responsible driver behaviours on the two major highways in the Wood Buffalo region. The Coalition implements seasonal driver safety education campaigns.

Performance Data

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Employee lost-time incident rate1 0.07 0.02 0.02 0.09 0.02
Contractor lost-time incident rate1 0.09 0.05 0.05 0.05 0.03
Combined employee and contractor lost-time incident rate1 0.08 0.04 0.04 0.06 0.02
Employee lost-time injuries (#) 4 1 1 5 1
Contractor lost-time injuries (#) 8 6 7 6 2
Combined employee and contractor lost-time injuries (#) 12 7 8 11 3
Employee total recordable incident rate1 0.83 0.66 0.71 0.56 0.30
Contractor total recordable incident rate1 0.70 0.80 0.71 0.62 0.63
Combined employee and contractor recordable incident rate1 0.75 0.76 0.71 0.60 0.49
Employee recordable injuries (#) 48 36 38 30 15
Contractor recordable injuries (#) 66 97 103 81 45
Combined employee and contractor recordable injuries (#) 114 133 141 111 60
Syncrude injury severity rate 7.55 0.60 2.25 4.60 0.60
Contractor injury severity rate 11.92 2.52 5.45 2.44 2.53
Syncrude and contractor injury severity rate 10.26 1.92 4.59 3.07 1.74
Injury-free performance - maximum hours between LTIs (million hours) 10.90 5.90 10.20 10.70 9.66
Employee health - new long-term disability (LTD) cases (#) 32 28 29 21 15
Employee and contractor health - health centre visits (#) 16,088 14,049 14,262 13,349 10,437
Employee fatalities (#) 0 0 0 0 0
Contractor fatalities (#) 0 0 1 0 0
On-site responses by emergency services (#) 1,986 1,487 2,032 1,698 2,053
Off-site responses by emergency services (#) 68 82 68 96 39
EH&S professionals on staff (#) 97 118 122 104 119
Workforce represented in formal joint management-worker H&S committees (i.e. safe operating committees) (%) 100 100 100 100 100
Health and safety convictions (#) 1 0 0 1 0
On-site workforce2 (#) 15,178 16,830 18,923 17,532 11,518
Workforce hours (million) 30.4 35.3 39.7 37.0 24.3

1 Includes occupational illnesses.
2 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 injuriesIillness have days lost.