Pubdate: Tue, 28 Nov 2017
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Gordon Kent
Page: A1


Suncor faces "profound problems" with drugs and alcohol at its
oilsands operations, including accidents, injuries and death,
according to documents filed to support the company's push for
increased testing.

The energy giant wants to start random drug and alcohol testing Friday
in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB), more than five
years after Unifor local 707A won an injunction putting the proposed
program on hold until an arbitration board's decision.

Although the board sided with the union, a judge later overturned the
ruling, a verdict upheld in September by the Alberta Court of Appeal,
which ordered a new arbitration hearing. Unifor, which is seeking
leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, will ask for another
injunction Thursday, but Suncor argues in court documents there has
been 73 safety incidents in the last four years where workers tested
positive for drugs or alcohol. These include a driver whose idling,
unattended truck rolled into a gas oil unit; a forklift operator
lifting a 4,500-kg pipe that rolled to the ground; and a dozer driver
whose machine tipped over, environment, health and safety
vice-president Mike Agnew states in an affidavit.

As well, a heavy hauler driver who crashed into another vehicle and
lost part of one leg had 16 types of pills in a bag in his truck.

Among 126 positive drug tests from October 2012 to October 2017, 93 of
the results were at least three times the acceptable levels and 26 of
them were more than 50 times higher, Agnew states.

"Despite comprehensive measures implemented over the past 35 years to
address safety concerns with alcohol and drugs, Suncor has faced, and
continues to face, profound problems with alcohol and drugs at its
operations in the RMWB."

In one of the area's five workplace fatalities since 2013, an employee
who later turned out to be legally impaired by alcohol climbed a
ladder while checking high-voltage currents and was

In the last four years, there have been more than 1,100 security
incidents related to drugs, alcohol and paraphernalia, such as 20
cases of suspected drunk driving, 180 cases of intoxication and eight
times devices were found for tampering with urine to be tested.

The company has spent about $4 million treating substance abuse
dependency since 2012.

"It is my belief that if this matter goes to the Supreme Court of
Canada and subsequently has to go back to a new hearing, granting the
union's application will effectively place a prohibition on Suncor
implementing random testing," Agnew stated.

"It could be years before this matter is fully resolved."

The random tests would affect about 4,500 workers in safetysensitive
jobs and 90 managers.

About 6,300 people worked at Suncor facilities in the region in

But Unifor lawyer John Carpenter wrote in an application the random
testing policy would breach the privacy and "bodily integrity" of workers.

He cited 2012 affidavits from two members who felt embarrassed and
degraded after drug and alcohol tests, describing lengthy detention by
the company, having an assistant from the testing company listen to
them urinate and being joked about by colleagues.
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