Oilsands Firm Fined Record $1.5 million for Worker Deaths
Sinopec Shanghai Engineering Co. Ltd., a member of the Sinopec group of companies, was fined $1.5 million this week after it pleaded guilty in Provincial Court to three charges under the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The company was initially charged with 53 offences related to failing to ensure the safety of workers as required under the Act. Two workers were killed and five injured in April, 2007 after a tank at an oil sands site collapsed while under construction.
The fine, $500,000 per count, is the maximum fine under the Act. It is the largest fine for workplace safety violations in Alberta history.
An agreed statement of facts stated that the collapse occurred after a revised assembly procedure, put in place in early 2007 to expedite construction after delays, did not provide for sufficient guy wires, nor for guy wires of sufficient size, to stabilize the tank during construction. The revised plans were not approved by a professional engineer. Another tank collapsed in similar fashion a month after the fatal accident without causing any injuries.
The workers were among 132 temporary foreign workers brought to Canada by Sinopec to work on the project. $1.3 million of the fine will be used to fund a program to train and educate temporary foreign workers and other new workers about their legal rights and responsibilities related to workplace health and safety.
Two other companies still face charges related to the accident.