Health & Safety

Our goals are to achieve a workplace where “Nobody Gets Hurt” and “Everyone Stays Healthy.” Syncrude’s Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) engages everyone in the awareness, understanding and adoption of safety rules, procedures and standards, and enables us to identify and remove workplace hazards and risks that could cause injuries. A network of safety committees, representing each area of the company, works to identify, discuss and resolve safety and health related issues. These committees share information and safety learnings with business teams across the organization.

Our performance

Syncrude achieved two major safety milestones in 2018: our best-ever performance in process safety and lowest-ever contractor total recordable injury rate (TRIR). Our spring maintenance turnaround also achieved world-class performance with a TRIR of 0.11.

These results are meaningful considering the challenges we faced when, in June, a power outage completely shut down our entire operation. The risk potential to people and the operation was high, however the outstanding response from both employees and contractors resulted in no recordable injuries or major process safety events during the incident or subsequent return to operations activities.

Total Recordable Injuries20142015201620172018

Total Lost-Time Injuries20142015201620172018
Employee lost-time
incident rate1
Contractor lost-time
incident rate1
Combined employee
and contractor
lost-time incident rate1

Alberta Safety
(Loss Time

Incident Rate)
Alberta Mining &
Petroleum Development
Alberta Average1.391.361.321.331.42

Source: Syncrude, Occupational Health and Safety

Operational Discipline Behaviours (ODB)

Our operation is large with many moving parts, both literally and figuratively. One of the ways we’re guided through our diverse complexities is with our Operational Discipline Behaviours (ODB). These are key principles that help us approach our jobs in a safe and thoughtful manner, and ensure we are doing the right thing, the right way, every time. They include:

  • Seek knowledge and understanding
  • Adhere to procedures
  • Use questioning to surface problems
  • Expect accountability
  • Collaborate

Health and safety committees

Our Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) brings together employees and managers from across the operation to identify and solve worksite issues and promote general health and safety awareness. The committee includes two front line workers and one management representative from each of our major operations and support areas. Employee representatives are randomly selected based on nominations by their peers and colleagues. The JHSC is co-chaired by one employee and one management representative, who are chosen by committee members.

Evaluating our effectiveness

Our assessment process is an important tool to review health and safety performance and helps us achieve provincial certifications that are critical to ongoing operations.

For example, OIMS effectiveness is assessed continuously through various feedback mechanisms. Formal internal assessments occur annually, with external assessments by representatives from a Syncrude Joint Venture Participant every three years.

A Certificate of Recognition, or COR, is issued by Alberta Occupational Health & Safety to employers who have implemented a workplace health and safety management system that meets provincial standards. The COR is valid for a three-year period, with maintenance audits required for the years in between. Syncrude maintained its COR after an independent audit in 2018.

Syncrude also participates in the Partners in Injury Reduction (PIR) program which encourages injury prevention and effective health, safety and disability management systems in the workplace. It is a voluntary joint effort by the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), Alberta Occupational Health & Safety, industry partners, safety associations, employers and labour groups.

As a member of the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), Syncrude participates in the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) program and reports annually on our safety and health management system. An independent external review occurs every three years. Our internal verification for 2018 assessed Syncrude at Level AAA across all indicators encompassing policy, implementation, training, reporting and performance. The review also assessed Syncrude as meeting all requirements under the TSM crisis management and communications planning system protocol.

Sharing knowledge and recognizing excellence

Each year, Syncrude hosts the Loss Prevention Leadership Symposium for our leaders and representatives of contractor companies. The symposium works to provide understanding of what pace-setting organizations do to achieve outstanding safety performance, share learnings and renew commitments to a loss-free workplace. As part of the symposium, Syncrude awards suppliers and internal departments for outstanding safety performance and demonstrated leadership.

The Loss Prevention Contractor Awards of Excellence for 2018 were presented to:

  • RAC Group Inc.
    • Most Improved Small Company (50,000 – 200,000 exposure hours)
  • Diversified Transportation Ltd.
    • Best Overall Small Company (50,000 – 200,000 exposure hours)
  • OA Heavy Metal Equipment & Rentals
    • Most Improved Medium Company (200,000 – 400,000 exposure hours)
  • Primoris Willbros Canada
    • Best Overall Medium Company (200,000 – 400,000 exposure hours)
  • APTIM Services Canada Corp.
    • Most Improved Large Company (More than 400,000 exposure hours)
  • CBS Construction Ltd.
    • Best Overall Large Company (More than 400,000 exposure hours)

The Loss Prevention Syncrude Awards of Excellence for 2018 were presented to:

  • Aurora Mining Dumps and Structures, for Most Improved Business Team. It implemented Leadership tours and inline checks, and closed several Loss Prevention System (LPS) stewardship gaps. The Team holds itself accountable and assesses major losses so plans can be implemented to stop them.
  • Technical Operations Support, for Best Overall Operations Department. The department makes it a priority to spend time at the Production workface, including with contractors, and makes effective use of the Loss Prevention System.
  • Human Resources, for Best Overall Corporate Department. The department is now four years injury free thanks to a “one team” approach to achieving its goals for loss prevention and safety awareness.

Regional safety initiatives

Energy Safety Canada is the one-stop shop for all oil sands and energy industry safety training. It was formed through the merger of two key industry safety organizations, Enform Canada and the Oil Sands Safety Association (OSSA) in 2017, helping to streamline workplace safety processes across the country. Visit Energy Safety Canada for more information.

Performance data

Health and Safety

Employee lost-time incident rate10.
Contractor lost-time incident rate10.
Combined employee and contractor
lost-time incident rate1
Employee lost-time injuries (#)51426
Contractor lost-time injuries (#)62574
Combined employee and contractor
lost-time injuries (#)
Employee total recordable incident rate10.560.300.530.370.47
Contractor total recordable incident rate10.620.630.580.500.47
Combined employee and contractor
recordable incident rate1
Employee recordable injuries (#)3015251823
Contractor recordable injuries (#)8145344445
Combined employee and contractor
recordable injuries (#)
Syncrude injury severity rate4.60.64.494.026.6
Contractor injury severity rate2.442.535.931.582.22
Syncrude and contractor injury severity
Injury-free performance – maximum
hours between LTIs (million hours)
Employee fatalities (#)00000
Contractor fatalities (#)00000
EH&S professionals on staff (#)104119113107101
Workforce represented in formal joint
management-worker H&S committees
(i.e. safe operating committees) (%)
Health and safety convictions (#)100020
On-site workforce3 (#)17,53211,51810,33712,92913,676
Workforce hours4 (million)37.0024.3021.2027.3128.88

1Includes occupational illnesses.
2 Administration penalties totaling $400 were issued by the Carrier Services Section of Alberta Transportation after deficiencies were identified in a National Safety Code audit. These deficiencies have since been rectified.
3 Full-time equivalent.
4 Includes Syncrude and contractor workforce hours.


  • A lost-time incident is an injury/illness that requires medical attention and results in the worker being absent from work beyond the day of the injury/illness; lost-time incident statistics include all lost time injuries/illnesses and fatalities.
  • Total recordable incident rate includes all injuries/illnesses requiring medical attention, involving work restrictions, or that resulted in a worker being absent from work (recordable injury/illness statistics include all non-first aid injuries/illnesses); it is expressed as injuries/illness per 200,000 work hours.
  • Injury severity is the average rate of lost workdays per lost-time injury/illness; only lost-time injuries/illness have days lost

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