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Trans Mountain suspends project in Burnaby and across pipeline route after worker hurt

Trans Mountain admits it needs to 'improve safety' on the project
The Burnaby tank farm. (via Contributed)

Trans Mountain is suspending all work in Burnaby and across the entire pipeline route starting Friday, Dec. 18 until Jan. 4, 2021, says a statement.

The move comes after a worker with a contractor at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby was seriously injured on Tuesday.

In a statement, the company admitted it needs to “improve” safety on the project.

“Trans Mountain 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 Ian Anderson, president and CEO of Trans Mountain, in a statement. “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 injury was reported to the Canada Energy Regulator late Tuesday and its safety specialists were on-site Wednesday. All work in Burnaby had been shut down, but now the work will halt across the entire project.

“Our top priorities remain the safety of our workers and maintaining a safe work environment as we continue to work towards the successful completion of this critical Canadian Project,” Anderson said. “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.”

“A safety stand down will provide an opportunity for Trans Mountain to engage with its contractors, their staff and Trans Mountain’s employees. Trans Mountain remains diligently focused on the safety of our people and our contractors. We will dedicate this time to ensure all safety management systems are in place, including COVID-19 protocols, to ensure everyone returns to work safely.”

The accident follows revelations that federal regulators recently found “systemic non-compliances” of COVID-19 mask rules at Trans Mountain worksites in Burnaby and the Lower Mainland.

Four workers were sent home following an inspection that found more than three dozen violations by contractors in three days.

Canadian Energy Regulator staff conducted a compliance inspection at the Westridge Marine Terminal (Dec. 1) and the Burnaby Terminal (Dec. 2) on Burnaby Mountain. The inspection also focused on “Spread 7,” the section of the pipeline expansion construction being done in the Lower Mainland, on Dec. 3. Work at each of these sites is contracted out to Kiewit-Ledcor Trans Mountain Partnership (KLTP).

Over the course of those three days, the inspector found 37 violations of three COVID protocols set out by Trans Mountain’s COVID-19 response plan.

Those protocols include mandating that physical distancing of two metres must be followed when possible, and when it isn’t possible, workers must wear face masks that completely cover the nose and mouth. Supervisors and health and safety officers are expected, per the protocols, to monitor the effectiveness of the plan and enforce the protocols.

Trans Mountain officials told the CER inspector the contractor’s disciplines for violating the protocols range from a verbal warning up to termination, according to a CER report.

“At each site, workers … were observed not adhering to the requirements outlined in the COVID protocols, despite the company messaging and signage around sites,” reads the report.

  • With files from Dustin Godfrey