No one ever expects to be seriously injured – whether they’re on or off the job. But, unfortunately, when safety protocols aren’t followed, incidents have a tendency to happen.

With this in mind, today we start our Safety survivors series, where we’ll be talking with workers who experienced the unthinkable and survived. And we’ll be learning how safety training and protocols could have helped protect them. Through their incredible stories of courage and endurance, we hope to show that even small lapses in judgement can change the lives, not just of those directly involved, but of their co-workers, friends and family.

This week we hear from two Syncrude employees who learned a sharp lesson about bear safety – and we’ll also find out why safety awareness shouldn’t end when you leave the worksite.

Surviving an encounter with a bear

Bruce Allan and Greg Armour were up in Fort McMurray working on a scaffolding project when they decided to take a relaxing morning jog. While out on the trails the pair came across a bear.

“It was pretty tense,” said Bruce. “I knew enough about bear awareness to stop, not make eye contact, turn around and walk slowly away.” But the bear had them in its sights, and it followed them – at one point coming so close that they could almost touch it.

On several occasions, the bear wandered off the track, pausing to climb trees, and creating a glimmer of hope that it might lose interest in its human prey. But each time it turned around and resumed the chase. Eventually, both men picked up rocks and steeled themselves for the possibility that they might have to fight for their lives.

Finally, after about 12 minutes, Bruce and Greg managed to create enough space between themselves and the bear that they could turn and sprint back to their vehicle. “We weren’t sure we were going to get out,” recalled Bruce.

Bruce managed to film his terrifying experience:

 Following safety procedures saves lives

Working in remote locations is a necessary part of the oil and gas industry. And while Bruce and Greg’s story had a happy ending, it offers a frightening reminder of the inherent dangers of being in close proximity to wild animals. And, it underscores the importance of following safety procedures both on and off the worksite.

Want to make sure your employees have the knowledge and training to stay safe in the wild? Consider having them take Enform’s Wildlife Awareness Online Training Course.

Stay tuned for more in this Safety survivors series. Next up, Curtis Weber: an incredible young man who survived a massive electrocution and is using his experience to spread the workplace safety message.

In the meantime, check out our other blog posts to learn more about how Enform works with industry to keep people safe.