Blog Post #986 – Poor Design a Factor in Oil-Tank Collapse

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Poor design and the employer’s lack of due diligence caused the collapse of an oil company’s tank near Fort McMurray on April 24, 2007, killing two workers and injured five, the Alberta Ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour concludes.

According to ‘Workers Crushed by Collapse of Tank Roof Support Structure’, a 43-page report on the tragedy published online on February 8, 2016, a team of welders was attaching sections into a tank wall on that day when the roof support structure began to fall in the direction of the wind. A scaffolder and an electrical consultant, both foreign workers from China, were fatally injured. Two other workers sustained serious injuries, and three others suffered minor ones.

Health and safety officers from Workplace Health and Safety Compliance issued a stop-work order on the entire worksite and conducted an investigation. The following are among the contributing factors cited in the report:

  • the SSEC employee who had developed the erection procedure for the roof support structure was not qualified engineer;
  • the structure was not bolted with the required restraints to resist high wind;
  • many of the bolts used to assemble the structure were loose; and
  • no written engineered erection procedures were provided.

“The tank roof support structure that collapsed onto the workers was a skeleton structure,” the report reads. It also charges that CNRL did not ascertain compliance with the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act and accuses the company of “failing to ensure that one of their contractors had erection drawings and procedures for a skeleton structure certified by a professional engineer.”

My opinion

I would like to find out what the actual fine was in this particular accident. Safety Engineering is not a priority as it is in most of the other provinces and China seems to march to the beat of their own drum.

Please read

The need to enforce safety should drive a “zero tolerance” type atmosphere on most job sites. The need to complete a job hazard assessment or analysis, which means the employer MUST identify, assess and control hazards. Simple in its definition but difficult for most employers to complete. The need is there.

Hire a safety professional to aid in the process. You will be glad that you did.

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – Alberta Health and Safety – An Oxymoron!

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

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

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

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



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