Health and Safety

It's a Top Priority

The top priority in Canada’s natural gas and oil industry is the health and safety of workers, the public and communities.

Protecting our employees and contractors is imperative. The industry strives to ensure every worker goes home safe at the end of each work day. Part of achieving that goal is ensuring employees have the training and competency they need to remain safe on the job and support the safety of those with whom they work

Training and Competency

Energy Safety Canada (ESC) is our national natural gas and oil safety association. ESC is an independent not-for-profit organization that works closely with the natural gas and oil industry to develop recommended practices and training.

Canada’s natural gas and oil industry provides safety training so everyone understands risks and how to reduce them. Industry programs provide practical, on-site mentoring of new employees by more experienced staff to improve overall competency. Companies also help workers manage fatigue, conduct drug and alcohol testing to ensure that workers are fit for work, and emphasize driving safety.

In addition to training, safety excellence is achieved through a number of collaborative industry initiatives, recommended practices, and regulations.

Regulations

Provincial and federal regulators are in place to ensure the safe and environmentally responsible development of Canada’s natural gas and oil resources over their entire life cycle. Comprehensive regulations and requirements are designed to maximize safety during exploration and production of natural gas and oil. Regulators play a key role in assuring safety.

Continuous Improvement

The natural gas and oil industry is advancing a safety culture based on a strong foundation of operational and corporate leadership and continuous improvement. Many companies conduct a Safety Reconnect and company executives and senior managers regularly visit frontline workers at facilities to talk about safety issues.

ESC has developed a set of 10 Life Saving Rules, based on addressing the most at-risk behaviours, to establish a consistent approach in the prevention of serious injuries and fatalities.

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Programs

Identification of hazards, risk assessment and the development, implementation and monitoring of controls is a critical process that supports the safety of people and the environment. The natural gas and oil industry is committed to the effective management of workplace hazards, and will eliminate hazards where practicable.

Emergency Response Plans

Emergency Response Plans (ERPs) are designed to ensure safety and are a vital tool to protect people in areas near natural gas and oil operations. ERPs address public and facility protection and ensure that all emergency responders have a clear plan of action.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) requires all natural gas and oil companies to establish and maintain ERPs for their operations as part of Directive 071 Emergency Preparedness and Response Requirements in the Petroleum Industry. ERPs are also required by the BC Oil and Gas Commission (BC0GC), Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy & Resources (SKMER), and the Canada Energy Regulator (CER).

Auditing and Compliance

Company management systems may be aligned to a range of national and international standards, as well as provincial and federal regulatory requirements. Companies and regulators audit regularly to verify compliance with safety programs, standards and regulatory requirements. Audit programs and certifications are useful tools for verifying that systems are working and for identifying opportunities for improvement.

Protecting Workers Offshore

The offshore industry in Atlantic Canada operates in a challenging environment. The remoteness of offshore workplaces, transportation to and from offshore facilities and harsh weather conditions are examples of the challenges the offshore industry works to overcome by providing comprehensive training and specialized equipment to offshore workers.

The industry provides extensive training to ensure employees and contractors have the competency and skills they need to do their jobs safely. Before working on offshore facilities, all personnel must complete mandatory orientations and training, including a comprehensive five-day basic survival program. Workers repeat this training throughout their careers. In addition, they are required to be familiar with emergency response procedures, which they regularly practice through drills and exercises.

Offshore workers are also provided with specialized safety equipment for transportation to and working on offshore facilities. This equipment includes helicopter passenger transportation suits and helicopter underwater emergency breathing apparatuses, as well as immersion suits and other personal protective equipment on offshore installations.

The offshore industry develops comprehensive health and safety plans, which are submitted to regulators before any exploration, drilling or production activity is approved.

Partnership Safety Programs

These are voluntary programs in which employer and worker representatives work collaboratively with government to build effective health and safety management systems aimed at improving workplace safety. By improving health and safety, the social and financial costs of workplace injury and illness are reduced. The Partnership Programs award Certificates of Recognition (CORs) to employers that have developed health and safety management systems and met established standards.