Tuesday, July 29, 2008

City of Calgary taking asbestos scare far too lightly

TheEnergyNews: EDMONTON, July 18 /CNW/
The Alberta Federation of Labour today accused the City of Calgary of treating the discovery of asbestos-contaminated asphalt throughout its road system far too casually.

"Asbestos is one of the worst workplace killers in Canada," says AFL President Gil McGowan, "and as far as labour is concerned, no amount is safe for human exposure."

McGowan points out that under Part IV of the Occupational Health and Safety Code, there is a section detailing how to deal with asbestos contamination, including measures for both worker and public safety in circumstances where asbestos may be released.

"Calgary should not be dismissing this as something that can be dealt with by a study later in the summer," says McGowan. "Inhalation of asbestos dust and fibre can lead to asbestosis, pleural plaques, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a malignant cancer whose only known cause is exposure to asbestos."

"Calgary should be taking exactly the same precautions that the City of Toronto is taking under similar circumstances," advises McGowan, "including limiting workers' exposure during road construction with hazmat suits, keeping dust down, and ensuring that citizens know the risks and counter-measures that should be taken."

"I also think that every other municipality in the province engaging in major roadway construction and resurfacing should take immediate steps to ensure that their projects are either asbestos-free or being done with necessary safety precautions."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Temporary foreign workers flood Alberta in record numbers

read full article: Calgary Herald
Many employers say the temporary foreign worker program is the only way they can fill jobs.

'They're are a good thing for Canada and Alberta,' said Lillian Davies of Calgary Aggregate Recycling Ltd., which has hired about a dozen temporary workers from Mexico and the Philippines, and hopes to keep some in the province permanently through the province's nominee program.

'They are good workers and they're easy to get along with,' Davies said. 'You can't get Canadian help. You can't get no help. Nobody wants to work here anymore, it seems.'

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Crane operator's death warrants criminal charges, union group says

read full article: Vancouver Sun
InTransitBC, the company created to design, build and operate the rapid transit line between Vancouver and Richmond, is not currently facing penalties, she added. Freeman said that to her knowledge, no criminal charges are currently being considered.

Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada reads: "Every one who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task."

InTransitBC vice-president Steve Crombie said the Building Trades Council "are not involved in this project at all and were not involved in the investigation at all. ... I don't believe they'd be up on all the issues."

WorkSafeBC found Slobodian had received between 20 and 90 minutes of training on the crane he was operating.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Crane death was preventable, report finds

read article: Vancouver Sun
A 22-year-old man who was crushed to death while operating a crane on the Canada Line had only 20 to 90 minutes of training on the machine, says a scathing WorkSafeBC inspection report.

The report on ironworker Andrew Slobodian's death was issued Wednesday to employer RSL Joint Venture and InTransitBC, the company created to design and construct the rapid transit line between Vancouver and Richmond.

The report contains a long list of health and safety violations it says contributed to Slobodian's death.

'[Slobodian] was an apprentice ironworker with little practical or theoretical knowledge of crane operations,' it says.

Carpenters' deal angers rival union

read full whine: The Hamilton Spectator
The city has a new deal with the carpenters' union that's threatening to cause labour strife.

Council approved a settlement last week that will give the union exclusive rights to the city's residential and heavy construction, such as roads and bridges.

The deal has outraged the Laborers' International Union of North America, which has traditionally completed the work.

'The city is screwed,' said Manuel Bastos, business manager for LIUNA Local 837.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Oilsands safe despite recent deaths: gov't

read full article: Fort McMurray Today
Alberta Occupational Health and Safety continues to piece together what happened Tuesday at Suncor Energy that left one worker dead and two others injured.

The accident occurred during an attempt to move a disabled heavy hauler for repairs, said Barrie Harrison, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) spokesman. The victim, an employee of Finning Canada, was run over by the hauler.

The accident also injured two men. One was treated at the scene and the other taken to Northern Lights Regional Health Centre where he was treated and released.

OHS remains on the site.

Including this latest incident, the provincial agency is involved with the investigations into four fatalities in three incidents at oilsands operations in just over one year.

The most recent is an incident at Albian Sands in April that claimed the life of a Bucyrus Canada employee after his pickup truck was run over by a heavy hauler.

The earliest investigation focuses on two workers killed in a tank collapse on the Canadian Natural Resources Limited Horizons site in April 2007. This file remains in the hands of Alberta Justice.

Though the prosecutors involved work for Alberta Justice, they are seconded to Occupational Health and Safety for investigations such as the Horizon fatalities.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dead worker was crushed by dump truck

read article: Edmonton Journal
Oilsands trucks are the largest in the world. The Caterpillar 797B stands more than three storeys high and has a hauling capacity of 400 tons.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Catalyst shutting mill, 440 will lose jobs

read full article: Victoria Times Colonist
The move to shut the Elk Falls pulp operation shocked the mill's union, the Communications, Energy and Paper-Makers Union.

'We are really disappointed that Catalyst has chosen to do this,' CEP spokesman Karen Cooling said.

'We know that the industry in general is having its challenges,' said Cooling. 'But our locals are always having consultations with local management to see how things can improve.'

She said the next step for the union was consultations with the locals to see what can be done.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Lessons Of Piper Alpha

read full article: The Herald, UK
Memorial services yesterday for the 167 men who died in the fireball which engulfed the Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea marked the 20th anniversary of the world's worst offshore disaster. With one voice, however, the bereaved families and the 61 survivors say that the memorial they want is for safety to be prioritised so that there is minimal chance of such a tragedy ever occurring again.

Since the disastrous day of July 6, 1988, there have been important changes to the safety regime as a result of recommendations from Lord Cullen's inquiry. They include transferring the responsibility for offshore safety to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), encouraging greater workforce involvement and changes to the design of offshore platforms. However, a report by the HSE last November warned of serious (and illegal) shortcomings on safety, including mechanical ones such as the failure of the fire-fighting deluge water systems.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Alberta unions mount campaign to halt labour-reform Bill 26

read full article: Daily Commercial News
The Alberta government introduced Bill 26 or the Labour Relations Amendment Act 2008 in the afternoon of June 2. After more than eight straight hours of debate, Bill 26 was passed at around 3:15 a.m. on June 5.

“They jammed this by us so quickly that a lot of our members, contractors and the general public were not aware of it,” said Tim Brower, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 424.

The new bill requires employees in the construction sector to have worked for an employer for 30 days, before participating in a union certification vote. Even when a union earns the right to certify, employees will have 90 days to reconsider their decision to join a union.

In response to this situation, the IBEW is launching an advertising campaign that tells Albertans the law will take away pension and health benefits from workers.

“You work hard, pay your taxes and contribute to pension and health plans your family counts on,” explains the ad.