Work on Trans Mountain pipeline resumes after safety review

Construction work continues on the Trans Mountain pipeline along Airport Road at Tranquiile Road in Kamloops, British Columbia on October 9, 2020. The Canadian Press

The expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is once again underway after the company suspended all work following the death of one worker and serious injury of another.

Construction was stopped on Dec. 17, 2020, to allow the company to do a safety review, with the company saying: “We must improve the safety culture and performance on our project.”

In a news release on Monday, Trans Mountain said the restart process has begun, and the 7,000 workers would be heading back to their sites.

“As part of the safety stand down process and the investigations into the incidents, the company and its contractors identified opportunities for enhancements to safety measures, some of which may have been contributing factors to the events of the past few months,” the company said.

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“The company focused on and reviewed matters of compliance, communication, near-miss worksite reviews and reporting, and workers’ fitness for duty, as a post-incident investigation revealed an isolated case of a worker failing a drug and alcohol test.”

Trans Mountain said the Canada Energy Regulator and other regulators are still independently investigating the incidents, which the company is co-operating fully with.

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Trans Mountain said it has taken “immediate steps to enhance the safety culture” and to ensure procedures and practices at its various workplaces are “of the highest safety standards.”

“The restart process will begin with the safety re-training and re-orientation of all supervisors and workers – before construction resumes,” Trans Mountain said.

“All employees and management are personally committed to keeping all aspects of workplace safety paramount, so all workers will remain safe on the job and go home safely each day to their loved ones.”

Click to play video: 'Father of 4 killed at Trans Mountain work site'
Father of 4 killed at Trans Mountain work site

According to its website, specific safety enhancements at Trans Mountain include:

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  • More rigorous job-site safety training, particularly regarding the safe operation of equipment in proximity to other workers and communication between workers
  • Enhanced worksite inspections and regular audits
  • Rigorous incident and near-miss reporting supported by corrective action plans and systems
  • Upgraded communications equipment and protocols for its effective operation on job sites
  • Strengthened site supervision and the identification of daily site safety champions
  • Better prior safety planning around higher-risk work, including the completion of detailed worksite plans to control personnel movements, heavy equipment locations and supervisory responsibilities
  • Augmented fitness for duty assessments, including drug and alcohol testing
  • Increased hiring and training of personnel specifically responsible for ensuring safety during higher-risk work and day-to-day operations

The new safety protocols are in addition to COVID-19 protocols that are already in place, the company said.

A worker was seriously injured and hospitalized on Dec. 15 during an on-site incident at the Burnaby Terminal in B.C., where the 1,150-kilometre long pipeline ends.

That was seven weeks after a 40-year-old employee of a contractor leading the pipeline work in Edmonton died at the worksite just outside the city.

Samatar Sahal was caught and pinned under a crossbeam of a trench box that was being disassembled.

— With files from Global News’ Karen Bartko

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