Syncrude Canada to pay $390K in ‘creative sentence’ following workplace fatality

Oilsands operator Syncrude Canada Ltd. has been ordered to pay a $390,000 penalty in relation to the death of a worker in 2021. A dump truck works near the Syncrude oil sands extraction facility near the city of Fort McMurray, Alta., on June 1, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson. JF/GAC

A fine leveled against Syncrude Canada in relation to a workplace death dating back to 2021 will be used to develop an employer best-practice guide and improve safety in the areas of trenching and excavation.

In a news release Monday, the government of Alberta said Syncrude pleaded guilty to one charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker. Four other charges under OHS Act were withdrawn.

The province said the charges are in relation to an incident near Fort McKay in which a worker was operating an excavator that became submerged in water. The worker was using the machine to build a berm when a bank underneath the excavator slumped into the water. The cab of the excavator became submerged and the worker drowned.

The OHS Act provides a “creative sentence” option in which money that would otherwise be paid as fines is directed to an organization or project to improve or promote workplace health and safety.

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Using the creative sentence option, Syncrude has been directed to pay $390,000 to the David and Joan Lynch School of Engineering Safety and Risk Management, the UAlberta Geotechnical Centre and the Alberta Municipal Health and Safety Association.

The province said the money will be used to develop an employer best-practice guide and field-ready mobile app for trenching, excavation and adjacent work.

“These will provide real-time training, work planning and decision support to enhance safe work practices,” the province said.

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