“Safety above all else.” Those words are expected to ring true for everyone working at Suncor, including employees at the East Tank Farm (ETF). Located 35 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, ETF is a blending facility where bitumen is blended and cooled before being transported to refineries.
At the end of September, ETF marked a safety milestone when they reached 1,544 days of operation without recording an injury at the site. Injuries at site can be wide ranging, from slips, trips and falls to cuts and pinch point wounds. But it’s not just about the milestone; the focus is on ensuring everyone goes home safe at the end of every shift, and that employees and contractors feel empowered to take a leadership role in safety.
In 2017, ETF had a number of situations that could have resulted in injury, and leaders knew there needed to be a shift in mindset to make lasting safety improvements. Leadership began working with employees and contractors at the site to embed health and safety into every aspect of daily work.
Each morning leaders from both Suncor and contractor Worley Parsons guide the whole ETF team in safe work discussions called Toolbox Talks. The talks engage workers in all aspects of safety - from planning and assessing risks to executing the work.
The safety topic is always relevant to the day’s work and a collaborative discussion between operations, maintenance and other supporting contractors.
“I’ve never seen any other facility where we have everyone doing work that day in the same Toolbox Talk. It’s one message, one team. Yes, we have the luxury of being a smaller site, but we could easily be doing an operations talk, a maintenance talk, and a contractors’ talk separately,” says Mark Heinish, director, ETF asset management, Downstream.
By building this community of safety, people are encouraged to step up, step in and ask questions. Ultimately, this results in a stronger team dynamic and positive work environment.
“Blending safety into our culture and community is what we pride ourselves on. The team is very committed to this promise of safety, and has continued to demonstrate this commitment in their day-to-day lives at work and at home.”