Average claim rates drop 60% or more in 15 years

Zero. Nothing. Nada. Nil.

By definition, zero is the only whole number that is neither positive nor negative. That changes dramatically when you’re talking about safety.

Zero is the ultimate positive goal in Canada’s oil and gas industry. No injuries. No lost lives. No lost production. No loss of equipment.

Once a stretch target, reaching zero is now within the grasp of many companies—and the industry as a whole.

“Over the past 15 years in the energy industry in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan, the average claim rates have dropped by at least 60 per cent or an average of seven per cent year over year,” says Cameron MacGillivray, president and CEO of Enform. “Safety performance has significantly increased.”

*Data based on AB, BC and SK Enform funding sector codes

*Data based on AB, BC and SK Enform funding sector codes

For example in 2015, Alberta’s mining and petroleum development sector had the lowest lost time claim rate at 0.25 and the lowest disabling injury rate at 0.88, reports the province’s labour department. And the sector’s injury rates (lost-time claim rate and disabling injury rate) were lower than the provincial average for 2014 and 2015.

In the spotlight

The energy industry’s safety performance was in the international spotlight in 2016 when wildfire swept through Alberta’s oil sands, the city of Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

“If there is one effort Canada’s oil and gas industry will be remembered for in 2016, it is the unprecedented response to the country’s largest natural disaster, the Fort McMurray wildfire,” says MacGillivray.

“As first responders fought the flames or during weeks of company operation shut-ins and restarts, there were zero direct industry lost time incidents and injuries as a result of the fire. Tens of thousands of workers in the community were trained in safety protocols and practices. They knew exactly what to do in an emergency. As a result, 90,000 people safely evacuated the region.”

35 years of better safety

In the 1980s, the safety record in Canada’s energy industry was under fire. In 1982, the Lodgepole sour gas well blowout generated national headlines.

The blowout was some 130 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, Alberta and drifted across a wide swath of Western Canada with the rotten-egg odour of hydrogen sulfide. Two wild-well fighters lost their lives and another 16 people were hospitalized.

Amoco Canada Petroleum worked for 67 days to bring the well under control. During that time, the industry faced harsh scrutiny from the public, government regulators and itself.

The Lodgepole incident set off a chain of sweeping safety changes and improvements over the next decade. They included: the opening of the Nisku Training Facility and establishing the Upstream Petroleum Industry Task Force on Safety in 1987. In turn, the task force made 42 recommendations that became a framework for new safety practices in the industry and led to the formation of the Canadian Petroleum Safety Council (CPSC). In 2005, the CPSC merged with the Petroleum Industry Training Service to become Enform.

“Whatever economic engines are work, we are constantly improving safety standards, knowledge and practices,” says Greg Stringham, Enform’s Board chairman.

Inching toward zero

In April, Enform released its 2016 Annual Report.

“As our data shows, we are inching closer to achieving our vision of zero work-related incidents and injuries in oil and gas. These numbers are a testament to the progress made in our industry—specifically because of the hard-working men and women in oil and gas that have rallied in tough times, committed their lives to safety and always having one another’s backs,” the report notes.

“While this is positive news for the industry, this means that now more than ever, we must continue to look forward by working collaboratively and proactively to protect our workers for a stronger and safer industry.

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  • Olivia Smith

    Indeed, the energy industry should move towards this positive goal of zero injuries and accidents. The industry can also save more by conserving energy. Energy modelling provides numerous advantages. Just Google it and you can find free sources. Thanks for the article.