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Oil sands operator Syncrude Canada Ltd. has been ordered to pay a $390,000 penalty in relation to the death of a worker in 2021.

Syncrude – which is an oil sands joint venture majority-owned by Suncor Energy Inc. SU-T – pleaded guilty on April 4 in a Fort McMurray court to one charge under Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker.

Four other charges under OHS legislation were withdrawn.

The charges stemmed from an incident north of Fort McMurray on June 6, 2021, when a worker was operating an excavator to build a berm when the bank the excavator was on slumped into water. The excavator cab became submerged and the worker drowned.

Alberta’s OHS legislation allows the court to apply what is known as a “creative sentence option,” where funds that would otherwise be paid as fines are diverted to organizations that promote occupational health and safety.

In this case, Syncrude will pay $390,000 to the David and Joan Lynch School of Engineering Safety and Risk Management, the UAlberta Geotechnical Centre and the Alberta Municipal Health and Safety Association for the purpose of developing an employer best-practice guide and field-ready mobile app for trenching, excavation and adjacent work.

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