Strong on Safety

Terry Roberts
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Oil refinery sets new workplace standard

Over a 46-year career in industry, Eli Dean has seen his share of mishaps - including some that led to deaths - on the job.

He's even taken foolish risks himself.

"I could take you up in the plant and show you the things we did, and you would just close your eyes and walk out," he said.

An employee of the North Atlantic Refinery in Come by Chance, walks towards the smokestacks on Monday morning. A ceremony at the refinery Monday marked a safety milestone. - Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Over a 46-year career in industry, Eli Dean has seen his share of mishaps - including some that led to deaths - on the job.

He's even taken foolish risks himself.

"I could take you up in the plant and show you the things we did, and you would just close your eyes and walk out," he said.

But that was long ago, when attitudes were different and safety often took a backseat to profits or simply to getting the job done on schedule.

Dean is now a champion of safety, and as the maintenance supervisor at the North Atlantic oil refinery in Come By Chance, it's his responsibility to make sure his subordinates end their shift the same way they started - safe and sound.

He's part of the reason that company brass and provincial health and safety experts were offering up such high praise Monday for the safety record at the oil refinery and other North Atlantic operations in Newfoundland and Labrador. Since the refinery was acquired by Harvest Energy two years ago, employees at North Atlantic have worked 2.7 million person-hours with just one day lost to injury.

That's not just slightly below the norm. It's an accomplishment that sets a whole new standard for workplace safety, said Brad Aldrich, North Atlantic's chief operating officer.

Aldrich and Harvest Energy CEO John Zahary informed employees of their impressive record during a ceremony at the refinery Monday.

Aldrich has been associated with 40 refineries over a 28-year career, and said he's never been so impressed with the safety culture at a workplace.

"This is truly industry-leading," he said.

According to statistics provided by the company, the provincial average over such a period of time is 30 lost-time accidents. The nursing profession would have reported an average of 40 lost-time accidents, while the average number of incidents for those who work in a department store would be 26 lost-time accidents.

Aldrich said the company's 700 full- and part-time employees should be proud of their achievement, but he cautioned them against complacency.

"Don't lose your edge. As you know, this is a business that can surprise you," he said.

Ralph Tucker, chairman of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission, described North Atlantic as leaders of health and safety in its industry class.

Zahary said it's an enormous accomplishment, "especially when you're dealing with an environment like this. It's a complex operation."

"I am impressed."

Aldrich attributed the safety record to a diligent effort over a long period of time.

"This no fluke. This is the culmination of 12 years of steady and consistent improvement," he said.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission

Geographic location: North Atlantic, Newfoundland and Labrador

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments