On April 4 in the Fort McMurray Court of Justice, Syncrude Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty to one charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act) for failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker. Four other charges under OHS legislation were withdrawn.

The charges stem from an incident near Fort McKay on June 6, 2021. A worker was operating an excavator to build a berm when the bank the excavator was on slumped into water. The excavator cab became submerged and the worker drowned.

Under a creative sentence, the company will pay $390,000 to the David and Joan Lynch School of Engineering Safety and Risk Management, the UAlberta Geotechnical Centre and the Alberta Municipal Health and Safety Association. The funds will be used to develop an employer best-practice guide and field-ready mobile app for trenching, excavation and adjacent work. These will provide real-time training, work planning and decision support to enhance safe work practices.

The OHS Act provides a creative sentence option in which funds that would otherwise be paid as fines are directed to an organization or project, to improve or promote workplace health and safety.

Both the company and the Crown have up to 30 days to appeal the conviction or penalty.

Alberta’s OHS laws set basic health and safety rules for the province’s workplaces. They provide guidance for employers to help them ensure their workplaces are as healthy and safe as possible while providing rights and protections for workers. Charges under OHS laws may be laid when failing to follow the rules results in a workplace fatality or serious injury.

Quick facts

  • Jobs, Economy and Trade does not provide sentence documents. These are available through the Fort McMurray Court of Justice.

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