Concerns over shift elimination impact on public safety - June 2024

Health & Safety Concern/Hazard

Enbridge is eliminating the existing afternoon and night shifts and will rely on contractors to respond to emergencies during these hours. A contractor employee will wait for Enbridge On-Call workers to arrive on site to manage the situation. This would be happening in the most densely populated, highest emergency incident region in the Province of Ontario, during hours when frequent emergencies arise. 

  1. Worker Fatigue Hazard

    After reducing workforce numbers, for the third time in recent years, an already stretched thin group will now be required to absorb more On-Call response hours, causing further worker shortages during regular operating hours, causing more fatigue for all field workers. 

    Worker fatigue has the potential to lead to:

    •    Motor vehicle accidents
    •    Stress and declining Mental Health 
    •    Lack of focus during safety sensitive tasks
    •    Serious Injuries or Fatalities 

  2. Public Safety Concern

    Eliminating the afternoon and night shifts, puts PUBLIC SAFETY at risk. Response times for emergencies during the eliminated shift hours will increase, allowing gas to blow uncontrolled or leak below ground for significantly longer periods of time, increasing the risk of an explosion occurring. 

    Enbridge considers its contractor arriving on site, as meeting its obligation for emergency response time, even though work to mitigate the uncontrolled flow of gas or stop a below ground leak will not begin until Enbridge in house On-call emergency crews arrive on site.  This could be hours from the time they are paged, due to the elimination of the current shifts. This presents an unacceptable risk to public safety and puts arriving crews at increased risk.

  3. Climate Concern

    The longer gas blows uncontrolled or leaks below ground, the more climate harming emissions are released. This will not only damage our planet but will tarnish the reputation of Enbridge and increase pressure on our industry. This will also cause workers to be viewed negatively by our communities and increase the potential for dangerous interactions with angry members of the public.

Supporting Background Information

  1. According to NIOSH, to prevent worker fatigue, employers should "Ensure sufficient staffing levels across operations, factoring in the inevitable absences that occur due to vacation days, sickness, and turnover." In addition, NIOSH states "Fatigue can also be associated with other workplace factors, such as:

    •    Stress
    •    Physically or mentally demanding tasks
    •    Working in hot environments

    It can stem from several different factors and its effects extend beyond sleepiness.

    Fatigue can:

    •    Slow down reaction times
    •    Reduce attention or concentration
    •    Limit short-term memory
    •    Impair judgment"

  2. Mental Health disability claims are on the rise and are trending as the leading cause of lost time at Enbridge. This may be directly attributable to worker burnout, which will only be made worse by eliminating shifts.
  3. The various shift crews are essential to ensuring timely responses to emergencies in the most densely populated and busiest region in the province. According to Enbridge, in it's on-line "Emergency Preparedness Guide", "Enbridge Gas emergency management programs and plans are designed to facilitate a timely and effective response to and recovery from any hazards to which the communities we operate in are particularly vulnerable." 

    The decision to eliminate the afternoon and night shifts is in contrast with this commitment to the public.

  4. Please consider the following local energy providers ability to respond to emergencies:

    Toronto Hydro

    •    Employees work various shifts to ensure the reliable delivery of electricity to their customers. Here are some details about the shifts:
    •    Rotating 12-hour Continental Shifts:
    •    Employees work on a rotating schedule with 12-hour shifts.
    •    The shifts cover both day and night hours: 12:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 12:00 PM to 12:00 AM
    •    This continuous rotation allows for around-the-clock coverage to address power outages and emergencies.

    Numerous Natural Gas Distribution companies across North America have “in house” crews that work various shifts covering 24hrs/day, 7day/week. This would be considered a best practice in the energy delivery industry. 

    By eliminating the afternoon and night shifts, Enbridge is moving away from an industry best practice of having its own workers available, at work, during all hours. 

  5. Legislation: 

    OHSA: S25(2)(h) "an employer shall...take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker"

Recommended Solutions

  1. Maintain all existing shifts, including Local 975 CBA afternoon (including weekends) and night shifts, and add additional 2-person crew to each shift.

    Benefits of recommendations:

    •    Reduction in worker fatigue, stress, preventable MVIs and potential for Serious Injuries or Fatalities. 
    •    Reduction in sick time due to overextended workers becoming burned out. 
    •    Quicker response times to emergencies during what can be very busy times during the week. This will reduce the potential for explosions that can lead to injuries or fatalities to Enbridge employees and members of the public. 
    •    Reduced damage to our climate and our company’s reputation as an industry leader

    It is my recommendation that Enbridge put worker, public, community and environmental safety first and immediately stop the plan to eliminate the afternoon (including weekend) and night shifts, while adding additional crews to each.

    This recommendation is submitted for the Region of Toronto, which includes Kennedy Rd Depot, STN B and Kelfield Depot, as these are the work areas that the proposed shift eliminations cover.