OHS Canada Magazine

Oil staffer found dead next to overturned ATV

June 17, 2013

Health & Safety Workplace accident -- fatality

Rock Island Lake, ALTA. (Canadian OH&S News)

Rock Island Lake, ALTA. (Canadian OH&S News)

Three days after he last reported into work, a worker at an oil company was discovered dead in Alberta beside his all-terrain vehicle.

Alberta’s occupational health and safety department reported that the incident occurred on June 1, but that the 58-year-old employee of Husky Energy, an oil company based in Calgary, was discovered three days later by the company itself on June 4, north of Lloydminster, Alta. Both the RCMP and the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) office at the provincial human services ministry are investigating.

Brookes Merritt, the public affairs officer at OHS said that the worker had been travelling on an ATV to check a number of oil well sites, and did not check in as he had been scheduled to check in. As a result, Husky Energy deployed a search team, and using a helicopter, discovered him on June 4 next to his overturned vehicle.

“It appears as though he was not wearing a helmet and was not wearing a locator at the time of the incident,” Merritt said. “The reason that is important — specifically the portion about the helmet — is that by OHS law out here, if you’re using an ATV as part of your work with your employer, you’re required to wear a helmet.”


In an RCMP statement issued on June 5, Cst. Larry Macdonald confirmed from Athabasca, Alta. that an early investigation revealed he had not been wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, and that it is believed that alcohol is not a factor. He added that the name of the worker was being withheld pending the notification of the family.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that it took so long for OHS to hear about the incident. The worker last checked in on June 1, and his body was found on June 4. However, OHS was not notified until June 5. That leaves unanswered questions, in particular, when the search for the worker began.

“For a fatality we require a notification immediately, but there’s a threshold. If your worker is going to be absent for 48 hours or in the hospital for two days or more, then it’s classified as‘reportable’ and they call OHS to report it. This one is a bit unique in that this person was missing for three days,” Merritt explained. “But there’s that three day window in there that we don’t have clarified.”

Husky Energy did not address the specific details of how their employee was discovered directly, but instead offered a statement, and mentioned that they are currently conducting a comprehensive review and working closely with authorities on the matter.

“We are deeply saddened by this incident and our thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time. Husky has rigorous processes and procedures in place to protect our workers and we continue to reinforce worker safety, including safety procedure reviews, safety equipment requirements and work-alone protocols,” Kim Guttormson, a spokesperson for Husky Energy said in an email statement. “The safety of our workers is of paramount importance and we are conducting a thorough investigation to determine the facts around this incident.”



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