File photo

File photo

Trans Mountain to enter “voluntary safety stand down”

Construction on the pipeline will be stopped from Dec. 18 to Jan. 4, 2021.

Trans Mountain will go into a “voluntary project-wide safety stand down,” temporarily suspending construction from Dec. 18 to Jan. 4, 2021, the company said in a media statement released Thursday night.

“Our top priorities remain the safety of our workers and maintaining a safe work enironment as we continue to work towards the successful completion of this critical Canadian project. Over the past two months, we have seen safety incidents at our worksites that are unacceptable to Trans Mountain. This is inconsistent with Trans Mountain’s proud safety culture,” said Ian Anderson, president and CEO of Trans Mountain, in the statement.

While the media release didn’t specify what the “safety incidents” were, the Canada Energy Regulator was on site in Burnaby this past week due to a serious injury at a construction site for the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

The incident happened Tuesday afternoon. Both the regulator and the company noted that Trans Mountain’s construction operations in the Lower Mainland had been stopped. The CER also stated the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee for the project had been notified.

“Any incident is one too many,” Gitane De Silva, CEO of the regulator said in a statement from Dec. 16. “Every day, on every work site, people have the right to feel and stay safe. This sad occurance brings home why we must always keep safety as our priority.”

The individual was taken to hospital where he is stable condition.

In October, the CER issued an order to Trans Mountain regarding the use ot trench boxes and contractor oversight, after a worker, Samatar Sahal, was struck and killed by a piece of equipment while working on the pipeline in Alberta. He worked for SA Energy Group, a contractor hired to construct portions of the pipeline, including in the Clearwater area.

“Trans Moutain is proactively taking the step to temporarily stand down construction on the expansion project to review, reset and refocus our efforts, and those of our contractors and their workers,” said Anderson in the release. “We are committed to a strong culture of safety above all else and insist that our project contractors and subcontractors are equally committed. The critical success of any organization is its ability to self-reflect — to honestly and courageously ask the question, ‘Where can we improve?’ This is non-negotiable, we must improve the safety culture and performance on our project.”

The release goes on to say that a safety stand down will “provide an opportunity for Trans Mountain to engage with its contractors, their staff and Trans Mountain’s employees.”

In addition to the shut down, the Times has confirmed Trans Mountain has terminated its contract with SA Energy for spreads 1 and 4B, the Edmonton and North Thompson areas. A reason was not provided, but a spokesperson said alternative contractors will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Approximately 20 per cent of the pipeline project has been completed throughout Alberta and British Columbia. In 2021, the pipeline will see peak construction, as thousands of people will be working in hundreds of sites across the two provinces.

“It is during this time when one of the greatest risks to the project becomes worker safety. Trans Mountain is committed to ensuring the safe, timely and efficient completion of this project,” said the release.

with files from Canadian Press and Black Press