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U of R professor educating public on health, safety of refinery

Sean Tucker, associate professor of Occupation, Health and Safety at the U of R, aims to educate people about the health and safety at the Co-op Refinery.
Sean Tucker, associate professor of Occupation, Health and Safety at the U of R, aims to educate people about the health and safety at the Co-op Refinery. Dave Parsons / Global News

An associate professor at the University of Regina is educating the public on potential health risks should there be a lockout or strike at the Co-op Refinery.

“I don’t assume that the public is always thinking about safety at the public refinery just like I don’t assume people are thinking about the safety of their drinking water,” said Sean Tucker, associate professor of Occupation, Health and Safety at the U of R.

“So it’s important to keep these issues front and center at the appropriate time.”

On Monday, he hosted a three-panel discussion at the University of Regina alongside Dan Josephson, an experienced worker at the Co-op Refinery and a former Unifor 594 member.

READ MORE: Mediation breakdown leaves Co-op Refinery workers feeling ‘frustrated’

At the event, Tucker said potential risks include fatigue, or the refinery using replacement workers who are less experienced than the current workers.

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“The use of replacement workers and management at the refinery, over time as fatigue sets in, I have no doubt, we increase the risk of an incident at the refinery. Is it inevitable? Absolutely not, but it will change the risk at the site and obvious to public health and safety,” said Tucker.

“In my mind it’s an unacceptable risk. In others view they may view the risk to be acceptable within the reasonable limits of acceptability.”

The Co-op Refinery is encouraging residents who are concerned about safety to reach out.

“Safety is always our priority,” said Brad DeLorey, director of communications and public affairs with the Co-op Refinery.

READ MORE: Construction begins on work camp at Co-op Refinery, amid standstill

“The public is always welcome and encouraged to contact the refinery and we’ll address those concerns as we would any day. And if you do call us, you’ll get a live person.”

DeLorey added that the Co-op Refinery is committed to the bargaining process .

“We encourage Unifor executives to come back to the table,” DeLorey said.

Last week, Unifor – who represents 800 Co-op Refinery workers – declined to forgo any futher mediation in contract talks. A current cooling off period ends on November 23.

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At that point, a 48-hour strike or lockout notice could be given to the employer.