Blog Post #1497 – Edmonton Launches Safety Review

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (Jan. 2017)

Nearly three months after the death of a sewer worker, the City of Edmonton announced a review of the safety culture of municipal workplaces on January 25, 2017. But a spokesperson says the review, which will examine the three distinct areas of people, processes, and technology, is not a response to the sewer tragedy, but a part of a general safety initiative that the city has already launched.

“The initiative was started before that was going on,” Doug Jones, Edmonton’s deputy city manager of operations, says the sewer fatality in which a 44-year-old city employee died while working underground as a sanitation sewer project November 02, 2016. A stop-work order from Alberta’s Ministry of Labour, shut down the site to allow for an investigation, and the city suspended all tunnelling work in Edmonton.

The safety initiative came from a new leadership team that made a decision to pursue safety excellence last year. “Technology is changing so rapidly,” Jones says. “Are there other things out there that we could use that maybe weren’t available five years ago?

The city has hired consulting firm DuPont Sustainable Solutions to conduct the review. Among the areas that DuPont will examine are training and equipment.

My opinion

Without knowing more of the details, it is difficult to give pertinent suggestions that should have been raised before any work was to be done.

  • Was a JHA (Job Hazard Assessment or Analysis) completed before any work was to be done?
  • Was the worker trained in the recognition of hazards?
  • Was the supervisor “Competent” to properly supervise?
  • Was the potential defined as a “Confined Space”, and. If so, were protocols put in place to protect workers such as air monitoring, issuing permits, entrant and attendant training and nearby rescue equipment?

Many fine questions and the province of Alberta has always been the province with a “Cowboy” mentality. Ask the Alberta Federation of Labour if Alberta ranks at the top of the Safety Food Chain!

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Confined Space Entry’ and ‘Due Diligence’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.


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