National Energy Board Taking Steps to Improve Worker Safety



    CALGARY, Aug. 11 /CNW/ - Pipeline workers were more likely to get hurt on
the job in 2007 than in years past says a new report released by the National
Energy Board (NEB) today.
    The NEB's annual Focus on Safety and Environment: A Comparative Analysis
of Pipeline Performance 2000-2007 reports that nearly two out of every 100
pipeline workers suffered a serious workplace injury in 2007, almost double
the seven-year average. It is the highest worker injury rate since the NEB
began reporting on safety performance indicators in 2000.
    The report singled out factors such as employee experience levels,
increasing pressure to meet deadlines, worker complacency and increased
construction activity as possible causes for the rise in the injury frequency.
In 2007, there were several pipeline projects under construction including the
145-kilometre long Emera Brunswick pipeline and the Trans-Mountain Anchor Loop
pipeline that stretches for 151 km through mountainous terrain.
    The report also noted that for the tenth consecutive year, there were no
fatalities on NEB-regulated facilities. However, two fatalities were reported
in 2008, and early reporting by NEB-regulated companies indicates that the
injury rate for pipeline workers is rising.
    "The National Energy Board has been committed to safety since the day
this organization was founded nearly 50 years ago. Safety is, and always will
be, our number one goal," said NEB Chair Gaétan Caron.
    "Together with our industry stakeholders, we have been working hard to
understand the factors underlying this important issue. We have also been
taking steps to help improve pipeline worker safety by increasing the number
of compliance activities and hosting events such as the recent NEB Forum 2009
where industry leaders can share best practices in the area of safety."
    NEB-regulated pipeline companies reported 49 incidents to the NEB in
2007, including two ruptures, the first since 2002. The first rupture was
caused by pipeline cracking due to fatigue which allowed approximately 990
cubic metres (6 227 barrels) of crude oil to spill into a farmer's field near
Glenavon, Saskatchewan in April.
    In July, NEB staff responded to an oil pipeline spill in Burnaby, British
Columbia. A contractor doing construction in the community struck an
underground 24-inch pipeline. Approximately 232 cubic metres (1 460 barrels)
of heavy synthetic crude oil was released.
    Between 1991 and 2002, there was an average of 2.5 ruptures per year on
NEB-regulated pipelines. The Board introduced new regulations in 1999 making
integrity management programs compulsory, which has helped to reduce the
number of ruptures.
    The National Energy Board uses this report to help improve the Board's
compliance programs. For example, NEB staff increased compliance activities,
such as inspections or audits, from 99 in 2007 to 216 in 2008. NEB inspection
staff noted fewer incidents of non-compliance with NEB regultions in 2007 than
in 2006 and most of these incidents were corrected while NEB staff were still
onsite. The most common incidence of non-compliance was related to personal
protective equipment such as not wearing hard hats or safety glasses
correctly.
    In May, 2009 the National Energy Board brought more than 300
representatives from pipeline companies, contractors, regulators, First
Nations and landowners together at the NEB Forum 2009 to discuss issues
related to pipeline safety, security and emergency management. The NEB plans
to continue hosting events such as these as one step towards improving worker
safety.

    Celebrating 50 years of regulatory leadership, the NEB is an independent
federal agency that regulates several parts of Canada's energy industry. Its
purpose is to promote safety and security, environmental protection, and
efficient energy infrastructure and markets in the Canadian public interest,
within the mandate set by Parliament in the regulation of pipelines, energy
development and trade.

    This news release, a brochure and the Focus on Safety and Environment: A
Comparative Analysis of Pipeline Performance 2000-2007 report are available on
the Board's Internet site at www.neb-one.gc.ca under What's New!





For further information:

For further information: Tara Sukut, (tara.sukut@neb-one.gc.ca),
Communications Officer, Telephone: (403) 299-3930, TTY (teletype):
1-800-632-1663; For a copy of Focus on Safety and Environment: A Comparative
Analysis of Pipeline Performance 2000-2007: National Energy Board, Library,
Telephone: (403) 299-3561, Email: library@neb-one.gc.ca


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