Companies’ lack of qualified engineers contributed to fatal Alberta 2007 collapse: OHS
EDMONTON – An Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) report says three companies didn’t take reasonable measures to protect workers at a job site in northern Alberta that was the scene of a fatal collapse in 2007.
On April 24, 2007, two workers were killed when a tank roof support structure collapsed at the west tank farm at the CNRL Horizon site north of Fort McMurray. Two other workers were seriously injured and three workers sustained minor injuries.
In 2009, 53 charges were laid against three companies, but years later, the charges against CNRL were stayed.
In Sept. 2012, the third company, SSEC Canada, pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker. In Jan. 2013, SSEC Canada was sentenced to a $1.5 million penalty. The penalty included a $200,000 fine and a $1.3-million payment to the Alberta Law Foundation to be used to support an outreach and education program.
The two workers who were killed were working on the large steel tank. The OHS report indicates SSEC Canada assembled the roof support structure as a stand-alone structure, which it wasn’t intended to be, according to the TIW Division of Canadian Erectors Ltd. (TIW) drawings.
“Neither CNRL nor SSEC Canada consulted with TIW with respect to what assembly sequence should be followed for the construction of the roof support structure,” the report read.
“SSEC Canada did not ensure that erection drawing and procedures for the erection of the roof support structure in tank 72-TK- I B were prepared and certified by a professional engineer,” the OHS report reads.
OHS also stated the chief engineer of the project was not a qualified engineer.
“SSEC Canada did not take reasonably practicable measures to protect the health and safety of all the workers who were working inside the tank when the incident occurred. The tank roof support structure that collapsed onto the workers was a skeleton structure. The erection procedures for erecting the roof support structures had not been prepared and certified by a professional engineer,” the report explained.
“Tenth Construction Company of Sinopec (TCC) did not take reasonably practicable measures to protect the health and safety of the Electrical Consultant. The tank roof support structure that collapsed onto the worker was a skeleton structure. The erection procedures for erecting the roof support structures had not been prepared and certified by a Professional Engineer. The Electrical Consultant did not have a work permit as a temporary foreign worker and thus should not have been working at this work site.”
Inadequate wires used as wind bracing on the partially-assembled roof also contributed to its collapse, OHS said.
“Our assessment is that Canadian Natural allowed these foreign contractors to essentially import Third World construction practices to a Canadian worksite,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said.
“The three companies that were behind all the questionable construction practices that led to the collapse and the deaths – not a single one of those companies actually had to face justice,” McGowan said.
Because the incident is set to be examined in a public inquiry, CNRL has declined to comment on the report.
Alberta Justice said Tuesday the fatality inquiry has yet to be scheduled.
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