Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

AFL group: oilpatch boom causes companies to cut corners on safety

Labour group: oilpatch boom causes companies to cut corners on safety
Canadian Press, Calgary, Alberta, November 29, 2007

The head of Alberta's Federation of Labour says the province's economic boom has caused some companies to cut corners on worker safety­an issue highlighted this week when a fire killed two workers on a major Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) pipeline in Minnesota.

"Health and safety has become much more of an issue in Alberta workplaces right across the board since the economy has gone on such a booming trend," Gil McGowan said Thursday in an interview.

"During a boom, the unfortunate reality is that corners are much more likely to be cut and one of the first corners that is often cut is health and safety."

McGowan said the number of fatalities has remained steady over the past four or five years but workplace injuries have spiked dramatically.

"While we may not be killing people at an increased rate, we are certainly seeing more disabling injuries on job sites, and we think that is the direct result of the boom and the pressure that's being put on both employers and workers to get more jobs done more quickly."

In Minnesota meanwhile, oil was flowing Thursday through two of four pipes affected by the fire. The two workers were killed Wednesday night while repairing the pipeline that feeds oil from Saskatchewan into the U.S. Midwest.

The fire, he said there have been several health and safety issues in Alberta's oilpatch.
In April, two workers were killed at Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s (TSX:CNQ) Horizon oilsands project north of Fort McMurray, Alta.

The accident occurred when the roof collapsed on a massive oil container being built as part of the company's $10.8-billion project.

The men who died in that incident were temporary workers from China [What are their names?].

McGowan also said the practice of bringing in foreign workers to address Alberta's labour shortage "has health and safety implications because many of these workers are being brought into Canada from countries that have much lower standards when it comes to occupational and workplace safety."

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