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> Oil and Death
findingnine
post Apr 25 2007, 10:25 PM
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I'm sure I'm posting this in the wrong area, but it's on my mind, so I'm gonna take a whack at it anyway.

I've been working at a plant in Northern Alberta for the last seven weeks. There have been seven deaths I have heard about since arriving here. That is one human life per week! That is until yesterday, when two more lives were lost at CNRL horizon project. Crazyness. NINE deaths in seven weeks. Could be more, that is all I know of for sure. Only three of those occurred at plants, but they are all connected to being up here for the work. People are becoming very aware of the environmental impact of how we use our natural resources. I wonder if they are as aware of the human life also being lost to this industry and our dependance on it?


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wakingdream
post Apr 26 2007, 07:14 AM
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That sounds like a very high casualty rate. Whoa. How are these people dying exactly?


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Jessica_CDN
post Apr 26 2007, 11:16 AM
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More info please!! This sounds really interesting!


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findingnine
post Apr 26 2007, 08:58 PM
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Well, news is not plentiful out here, and not all explanations are taken at face value...but..

4 lost to the highway of death
2 found expired in their rooms at camp
2 in an industrial accident at CNRL
1 suspicious circumstances

Prefer not to go too much deeper, but if that is how much crossed my limited news circle, I assume there may be more.

The highway of death by the way is how highway 63 up to Fort McMurray is commonly referred. Many lose their lives every year to this terrible stretch of road.

Companies only have to pay with cash, but it is the workers who too often pay with their lives. Sometimes, when counting the cost of things, one must look beyond the accounting office.


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mizliz
post Apr 26 2007, 11:44 PM
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My information about these deaths is that these people are mainly Chinese citizens who come to Canada on a work permit to labour in the oil fields around Fort McMurray due to the present labour shortage in Canada.

This makes me question if bringing people who don't speak or read English into our country to work in a very dangerous occupation is the right thing to do.

What do you think?
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findingnine
post Apr 26 2007, 11:55 PM
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I think the labour shortage is imaginary! I think there is a shortage of unskilled workers to staff everyday positions. I think there are thousands of Alberta tradesmen at home waiting for calls to go to work. I think there are MANY more across Canada ready to fill positions we can't. Companies are not faced with a labour shortage up here. They are faced with a shortage of Tradesmen who will do what they want for the low rates they want to get away with. When building a money machine, it is foolish to nickel and dime on man hour costs. As shown, those savings cost lives!
I think CNRL is an embarrassment! The only Canadian company out here, and the only one I know of that men and woman will stay at home out of work rather than go work for. Their reputation is so low with tradespeople, that not only will many not go on their terms, but even more do not want to be anywhere near when they make that plant live. If bad welds in a Silo cause deaths, imagine if anything goes wrong with all the pipes. Their money machine is sure to become a death machine. Not the sort of thing you really want going to the lowest bidder. Skilled workers are availabe...in Abundance! Companies do not want to pay. So workers do.


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wakingdream
post Apr 27 2007, 07:26 AM
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QUOTE
This makes me question if bringing people who don't speak or read English into our country to work in a very dangerous occupation is the right thing to do.

What do you think?


Good point. If you're grasp on the language is not fluent or near, it's pretty hard to understand the consequences of dangerous positions.

QUOTE
If bad welds in a Silo cause deaths, imagine if anything goes wrong with all the pipes.


These jobs sound pretty Danger Bay.


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findingnine
post Apr 27 2007, 07:23 PM
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I think I read about 124 workplace deaths in Alberta last year. 1 was union. Safety is emphasised in my work environment, but not everyone is so lucky.
Still, things are not as good as you read in the papers. They talk about so many million man hours with no lost time accidents. But they Cheat! If someone is injured, they just pay him to keep showing up anyway. No WCB claim, no lost time. Sneaky! A guy could have his arm and a cast and spend the days in the lunch room collecting his pay so the company looks better. I can't believe guys go for this! They should get 'meaningful' work as required or go home and have the company use their WCB benefits. Companies don't want their rates to go up, and guys fear they will be laid off as soon as they are better if they don't play ball. This fear is not unfounded by the way, but playing along won't change anything.

Tomorrow, April 28 in the International Day of Mourning for those who have lost their lives to workplace accidents or diseases. You may want to look into how this is being observed in your community. Here, on union sites anyway, ALL work will stop at 11:00am for a brief time of observance.


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wakingdream
post Apr 28 2007, 11:57 AM
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QUOTE
showing up anyway. No WCB claim, no lost time. Sneaky! A guy could have his arm and a cast and spend the days in the lunch room collecting his pay so the company looks better. I can't believe guys go for this! They should get 'meaningful' work as required or go home and have the company use their WCB benefits. Companies don't want their rates to go up, and guys fear they will be laid off as soon as they are better if they don't play ball. This fear is not unfounded by the way, but playing along won't change anything.


Totally illegal, which you obviously know. It's really too bad the employees go for this but I can understand the predicament.

Here in Ontario, if you get injured and have to take time off work after a WSIB claim is filed, it's law that the company has to take you back when you're better rather then hiring someone else on to replace you, and if you get laid off immediately after returning to work, WSIB usually investigates it to make sure it's legit. I think the laws here are pretty good re: WSIB. They're onto the companies who are sneaky about injuries. If a company ever got caught being sneaky, they would have to pay huge fines.


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findingnine
post May 13 2007, 08:56 PM
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Heard on the news today that Another tank collapsed at CNRL. The only reason no one was hurt is because the area was still shut down for investigation into the previous deaths. What next? I don't even want to be in the province when that start that plant up!


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missmerkie
post May 14 2007, 01:29 PM
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QUOTE(findingnine @ May 13 2007, 08:56 PM) *

Heard on the news today that Another tank collapsed at CNRL. The only reason no one was hurt is because the area was still shut down for investigation into the previous deaths. What next? I don't even want to be in the province when that start that plant up!



Im an employee of CNRL. The reason why no one else was injuried was because CNRL took action. For the safety and well being of their employees. This is also a company that fly's in the employees in and out of the site. Any company that spends that kindof time and money that CNRL does, does have their employees well being upmost in their minds. Until these two incidents CNRL has stood with millions of hours injury free statistic that are posted all over. Not many other Oil and Gas Companies can say the same. So to bash a company or doubt their integrity until an investigation is complete is unjust. And its not a "plant" its a tar sand SITE!
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wakingdream
post May 14 2007, 02:01 PM
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QUOTE
So to bash a company or doubt their integrity until an investigation is complete is unjust. And its not a "plant" its a tar sand SITE!

Well missmerkie, everyone is entitled to their own opinion......


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formercnrl
post May 14 2007, 05:53 PM
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QUOTE(missmerkie @ May 14 2007, 02:29 PM) *

QUOTE(findingnine @ May 13 2007, 08:56 PM) *

Heard on the news today that Another tank collapsed at CNRL. The only reason no one was hurt is because the area was still shut down for investigation into the previous deaths. What next? I don't even want to be in the province when that start that plant up!



Im an employee of CNRL. The reason why no one else was injuried was because CNRL took action. For the safety and well being of their employees. This is also a company that fly's in the employees in and out of the site. Any company that spends that kindof time and money that CNRL does, does have their employees well being upmost in their minds. Until these two incidents CNRL has stood with millions of hours injury free statistic that are posted all over. Not many other Oil and Gas Companies can say the same. So to bash a company or doubt their integrity until an investigation is complete is unjust. And its not a "plant" its a tar sand SITE!


I worked there also. the site was shut down not because CNRL took action but because OH&S needed to intervene in CNRL's gross safe work practices. Give your head a shake we both know how unsafe that site was and now the safety record proves just that. How can you be so proud of 2 deaths, all the injuries. mass destruction of multiple tanks collapsing etc.

Everyone that worked there knows the reason for the collapses are because there were not an adequete ammount of guide wires installed to support the tanks during construction. I been building tanks 15 years it does not take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

FAce it CNRL dont care about anyone they just want to get things done as fast and cheap as possible. I just hope our government takes some interest and shuts thesee clowns down before they kill more people
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findingnine
post May 14 2007, 11:57 PM
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QUOTE(formercnrl @ May 14 2007, 05:53 PM) *
FAce it CNRL dont care about anyone they just want to get things done as fast and cheap as possible. I just hope our government takes some interest and shuts thesee clowns down before they kill more people


Hear hear! It is utterly embarrassing that the only Canadian Company out here is also the cheapest. Human lives are not their concern, liability is. It is not whether or not you get hurt, it is whether or not is 'their fault'. I for one [of many] do not trust my life to them. "Dying is a poor way to make a living"
Further, they do not fly you because they are generous! They only fly workers who agree not to get double time on the weekends. I could buy the flight with the extra money I earn easily and then some. They fly employees to sell them convenience in lieu of fare wages. In fact, if fair wages were not so hard for oil companies to accept, these foreign workers would never have been on site! Some of the thousands of unemployed and underemployed Canadians would come out and do the job right, and they would do it safe because they know their rights.
CNRL is not trusted, and Widely so, because they have proven themselves untrustworthy.
I am glad you take pride in where you work. But the fact is, they only take pride in profit.
More people will die there. Don't be one of them.


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thinking
post Aug 3 2007, 03:10 PM
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Hi all, I am trying to get accurate information on just how safe the workplace is out in "Death Valley" Alberta. Does anyone know anyone who has been injured or killed in the oil sands? My sister in law was killed there last month and I am trying to get some answers but all sources have different stats and numbers!
Thanks
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juanito5
post Aug 12 2007, 10:20 PM
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I'm not an advocate for sacrificing safety for profit, the deaths at horizon and other sites (sorry for your recent loss, thinking) are tragic and of course always preventable. The truth is, all construction projects and field operations are dangerous, and as much as we try to contunually create a safe workplace through standards and policies, human error is always present. No one anywhere can say they've never made a mistake. It's okay to have an idealistic attitude for safe working environments, but honestly, if your going to criticize, offer a practical solution. I'm tired of a society filled with pessimists that can find problems, but lacking in optimists who create solutions.

I'm an engineering co-op student working for CNRL. Last month I had the opportunity to talk personally with Mr. Markin (chairman of the board - CNRL) about this issue at a field production conference in Edmonton. I will not quote what he said, but I will tell you that his attitude isn't that he, or anyone else cares more for profit than for the lives of company employees and contract workers involved with CNRL projects. I also learned that it wasn't that CNRL policies weren't sufficient or enforced, but site supervisors were simply lied to in another tounge. My opinion is that the two deaths are NOT a reflection of the company's safety standards, but a reflection of what can happen when foreign labour is utilized, and a language barrier is present. Lessons will be learned from this, and improvements will be carried out.

As for your opinion on wage fairness, findingnine, mine is that with this company has been generous with me. I as well have two friends at horizon, one is an administrative assistant, one in engineering, and because of their opinions of company satisfaction, I decided to turn down 7 other coop job offers for this one, and I have never doubted that decision. As for contractors, those who do jobs for us in my assigned field, "would do work for us on the weekend, but no one else." So I see first hand a higher level of trust towards the company than what I am hearing. Perhaps my experience here has been different than others here in this forum.
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findingnine
post Aug 13 2007, 12:13 AM
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Trust me on this, if you wear coveralls instead of ties, the story is very different, If one dime can be saved, they will save 2. It is embarassing (there really is no other word) that the Canadian company is the most shamefull. The greatest exampe is the the tendancy toward a 5 and 2 schedule instead of a 10 and 4. This only serves to save money and costs men and women already thread bare time with their families. I understand that they have to answer to share holders. Howerver, until they can answer satisfactorily to me and many others, their calls for workers will fill slower than the other companies up here and I'm sure more foreign workers at more savings is the plan, whether your boss know/admits that is another story.
CNRL can make their money without my sweat. Oil costs life. That is a fact. Whether it be finality or quality, the cost is too high. Nickel and diming is NOT acceptable. High cases of Lung cancer and divorce are trackable. The rooms workers stay in and the food they eat is NOT the SAME as the suits experience. I am confident they pay dearly those who save them money. Pity they do not hold the same value for those who MAKE them money.


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thinking
post Aug 13 2007, 10:44 AM
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I have to agree somewhat with some of what both sides are saying. We are all partially responsible for our own safety. And I will try to offer solutions in most cases. I wasn't actaully making any point, simply asked a question. It seems to be a hot topic for many. My sister in law was left alone unsupervised at a job site doing a job she was barely trained for (three weeks with the company, even less at this position) her co-worker didn't show up for work that day. He was not replaced. Why didn't he show up? Who knows? maybe car problems, maybe recovering from the night before. (NO ONE can deny the huge drug market in the tarsands!) Maybe she could have said no....but ...
1. she put trust in those that hired her, that she would be OK.
2. Would she have a job the next day if she started citing safety concerns? Be honest
3. Why was a 120 pound woman coupling boxcars with a crow bar in the first place?
4. Why was there no one on site who knew how to shut the trains down? Hit a kill switch?
5. The company did not even contact her parents. They said" oh we didn't know how to reach them". What kind of a company has no personal records on an employee? That's just shoddy admin. She lived with her boyfriend up there. Did anyone at the company think to contact him....or did they care to?
6. Conveniently, the rail company has gone into receivership...why does the WCB only have 6 deaths on record last year. Apparently they only track claims....there were actually over 120 in Wood Buffalo alone. (That doubles our troops deaths in action by the way). As to offering "practical solutions"? I was simply looking for info, but since you ask.....SLOW DOWN THE GROWTH AT THE TARSANDS! SLOW DOWN! Money is not THAT important. Sewers are overflowing, there is no housing, Highway 63 kills as many as entire provincal roads annually, the drugs are in the 6 to 7 million dollar mark-weekly-! Hire qualified people instead of rushing in undertrained labour. SLOW DOWN! The oil is not going anywhere. The environment is...down the tubes in filth and disaster. Go look at a tailings pond next time you are out in the field...take off the suit and go for a swim...if you dare.
I KNOW that individuals care. I know that some companies are really making inroads in safety. But it is too little, too slow. (don't even get me started on the cases of people injured on the job, then paid to come to work and do nothing but "heal" and not make a workplace safety report! This is equal to lying so companies can keep their records clean)
I KNOW that most people are trying. But ANY loss of life is unacceptable. ANY loss. Take a minute to think why we are even in the tarsands....because we are bowing to the demands of people who don't care about a clean planet...I don't mean that we must all go live in trees and eat grass, simply that if we all make our voices heard, support alternative energy sources, moderation! stop listening to American demands and take life as seriously as we do business, we might actually have a planet to visit in the future. and people to visit...
Again I say, slow down and respect the earth, respect the limitations for the human being. It is dangerous arrogance to think we have rights to destroy life and the environment for our consumer needs. It cost me a loved one. I hope no one else has to pay that price.
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findingnine
post Aug 13 2007, 08:33 PM
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Thinking, sounds like you already have some answers. Seems your name is well chosen also.

I think some of the pressure at field level is passed down, and some is assumed by anothers insecure need to prove they are valuable to the company and some is probably just assumed. The companies all say they don't want anyone hurt. I do believe them. That said, a blind eye is turned (as you are intimately aware) to lots of activities the higher ups would never risk themselves.
The healing in the lunch room is so true. There was a guy today doing that and infact I have never been on a job out here where atleast one guy was not in that situation. It seems to be primarily about shifting liablility more than about an earnest effort to make sure Everyone makes it home. Absolutely, each of us is responsible for our own safety, But if the one guy who won't take risks produces less than those who do, that will be viewed negatively, and those who raise tough questions at safety meeting seem to disappear with eerie consistency.
There is no part of my brain that imagines evil men in tall towers counting their money ignoring the deaths. Absolutely they care. BUT, I do not believe in their efforts to maximize profits and balance financial costs do they take the time to weigh all of the human costs. They have goals and targets and understandably persue options which help them reach those targets. I know it is not a perfect world, but it would be nice to see something better than minimum standard when in a position to make decisions that affect so many.

I'm sorry for your loss. I have not any that close to home thankfully. I hope with many of the safety laws getting more stringent, I will never have to. I am sure it is as much a contractor issue as a company issue, probably more so. Still, the company is in the position to set the standard. It is not rare to witness (oh and maybe participate in) self administered first aid. Actually reporting every injury would be a bad career move, and excessive unemployement is never good for overall well being either.
Sadly, nothing will make sense of your loss. As incensed as I get over the issue, I would hope someone as thoughful as yourself has atleast been able to forgive.

I know some will read this and insist they can't do this or that, or we could fix it in such a way, but suffice, many things which should not be able to happen do in fact happen. It is no different up here.

I do not really believe CNRL is evil. I do believe they are less diligent in considering how their decisions will affect the quality of life of their workforce. I do not believe they fully comprehend the magnitude of the sacrifice men and women make to be out here, and I do not believe they take to heart the reality of the risks we face daily. Being out here, anywhere is bad enough, but safety in a non-negotiable and I feel safer on other sites.

This is a forum not a newpaper, I express myself unedited. Those who read and work for CNRL and respond with company pride, Know that I am jealous. Many do not get that great experience you have. It is not my wish to contaminate that experience. But they are a Big company and not everyone working for their benefit is going to benefit in return equally.
How much would it take for you to spend months away from your spouse, or only see your kids twice a month..or less. Maybe I say some things that are wrong. I do appreciate the opportunities so far to get a glimpse of the 'other side'. Really, the whole scene out here is not safe enough. Originally I only picked on CNRL because of the deaths in the paper when this thread was started. Still, comparatively they do not fare well when it comes to a field workers over all enjoyment and security of life. But then again, another trade may have a different experience. Another may come with different expectations. I am confident many there are satisfied as they are other places. In some cases it would seem, more so. For me though, doing what I do, I would still pick them last, if at all.


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thinking
post Aug 16 2007, 01:26 PM
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Thanks "finding nine" I appreciate your level headed response....I am still looking for answers, but not looking to lay blame, just stop it from happening again...
Thanks and here's hoping you have better experiences....I don't know....win a lottery?! Run for office and help stop the madness! lol
QUOTE(findingnine @ Aug 13 2007, 09:33 PM) *

Thinking, sounds like you already have some answers. Seems your name is well chosen also.

I think some of the pressure at field level is passed down, and some is assumed by anothers insecure need to prove they are valuable to the company and some is probably just assumed. The companies all say they don't want anyone hurt. I do believe them. That said, a blind eye is turned (as you are intimately aware) to lots of activities the higher ups would never risk themselves.
The healing in the lunch room is so true. There was a guy today doing that and infact I have never been on a job out here where atleast one guy was not in that situation. It seems to be primarily about shifting liablility more than about an earnest effort to make sure Everyone makes it home. Absolutely, each of us is responsible for our own safety, But if the one guy who won't take risks produces less than those who do, that will be viewed negatively, and those who raise tough questions at safety meeting seem to disappear with eerie consistency.
There is no part of my brain that imagines evil men in tall towers counting their money ignoring the deaths. Absolutely they care. BUT, I do not believe in their efforts to maximize profits and balance financial costs do they take the time to weigh all of the human costs. They have goals and targets and understandably persue options which help them reach those targets. I know it is not a perfect world, but it would be nice to see something better than minimum standard when in a position to make decisions that affect so many.

I'm sorry for your loss. I have not any that close to home thankfully. I hope with many of the safety laws getting more stringent, I will never have to. I am sure it is as much a contractor issue as a company issue, probably more so. Still, the company is in the position to set the standard. It is not rare to witness (oh and maybe participate in) self administered first aid. Actually reporting every injury would be a bad career move, and excessive unemployement is never good for overall well being either.
Sadly, nothing will make sense of your loss. As incensed as I get over the issue, I would hope someone as thoughful as yourself has atleast been able to forgive.

I know some will read this and insist they can't do this or that, or we could fix it in such a way, but suffice, many things which should not be able to happen do in fact happen. It is no different up here.

I do not really believe CNRL is evil. I do believe they are less diligent in considering how their decisions will affect the quality of life of their workforce. I do not believe they fully comprehend the magnitude of the sacrifice men and women make to be out here, and I do not believe they take to heart the reality of the risks we face daily. Being out here, anywhere is bad enough, but safety in a non-negotiable and I feel safer on other sites.

This is a forum not a newpaper, I express myself unedited. Those who read and work for CNRL and respond with company pride, Know that I am jealous. Many do not get that great experience you have. It is not my wish to contaminate that experience. But they are a Big company and not everyone working for their benefit is going to benefit in return equally.
How much would it take for you to spend months away from your spouse, or only see your kids twice a month..or less. Maybe I say some things that are wrong. I do appreciate the opportunities so far to get a glimpse of the 'other side'. Really, the whole scene out here is not safe enough. Originally I only picked on CNRL because of the deaths in the paper when this thread was started. Still, comparatively they do not fare well when it comes to a field workers over all enjoyment and security of life. But then again, another trade may have a different experience. Another may come with different expectations. I am confident many there are satisfied as they are other places. In some cases it would seem, more so. For me though, doing what I do, I would still pick them last, if at all.
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