Utilizing Rope Access at Shell Scotford

The Chemco Rope Access (RA) concept is simple in theory; provide a safe, innovative, and cost effective option for working at heights.

Chemco has partnered with Pacific Ropes, a like-minded company, who’s experienced team of IRATA certified employees have extensive experience in the Rope Access (RA) industry and provide training to Chemco employees and work closely to perform RA activities.

Using Chemco RA at Shell Scotford was a collaboration incited by supervision and management of both companies as part of the Continuous Improvement Plan. Our shared goal is to develop a culture of value improvement and become an active participant in identifying and realizing opportunities that proactively focusses on Shell business needs. Prioritizing and optimizing activities allow us to achieve desired safety and quality improvements.

Using rope access eliminates many hours required to isolate systems at height and reduces unproductive time by moving electricians in and out of the RA work scope as the schedule permits.  The result to Shell is increased efficiency along with major cost savings through the reduction of scaffold and labour costs.

With over a dozen employees on site already trained and IRATA L1 certified, and with more scheduled for upcoming training both Shell and Chemco are realizing the immediate benefit of this collaborative, innovative approach.

Chemco Matting: Chemco Crambo

This Komptech Crambo unit is a wood waste reducing ‘beast’. With a 600 HP C18 Caterpillar engine and 134 aggressive teeth, it can chew up the toughest material, reducing an access mat in about a minute. The reduced wood can then be used for things such as biofuels, absorbants, mulch, etc.

An industry leader in its class, it can reduce material at a rate of 100 tons/hr under ideal conditions and can reduce bolted access mats at a rate of approximately 60 tons per hour. The Chemco Crambo unit is equipped with two ultra-strong magnets, making metal recovery a breeze. It even has optional screens that control for product sizing in the range of 2″ to 24″.

The Chemco Crambo is a big innovation in environmentally friendly wood disposal. In the past, access mats were hauled away for disposal in landfills. With this machine, we can successfully eliminate unnecessary trucking, massively reduce the amount of waste going to landfills, and ultimately reduce our carbon footprint. The CAT diesel engine is equipped with the latest emission controls, making its environmental impact minimal.

Safety is a cornerstone at Chemco. With the Chemco Crambo being driven remotely, it improves safety for the operator and everyone else on site. There is simply no better mobile shredder on the market.


The Chemco Crambo can handle railroad ties, building materials, telephone poles, access mats, etc. If you have a need for wood waste recycling, your solution is just one call away at 1 (587) 773-3541.

Want to see it in action? Check out our video here:

Chemco Receives 2017 Canadian Electrical Award

A couple months ago we had mentioned our major milestone at Shell Scotford, having successfully completed 1,000,000 man hours without a recordable incident since November of 2014. Well we are happy to report that the industry is taking notice. Thank you Shell Canada Products for the nomination!

The following was published in the November/December issue of Electrical Business Magazine:



Some of the players: Chemco Electrical Contractors (contractor), Shell Canada Products (general)

Why it caught our attention…

The 2016 turnaround event included significant electrical direct field labour hours for work such as maintenance inspections, repairs, isolations and, most significantly, electrical installations and commissioning for a 20% de-bottleneck project for the Scotford Refinery in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., near Edmonton.

The 20% de-bottleneck included the installation and commissioning of new 25kV and 5kV switchgear, 5kV and 600V motor control centres, 5kV motors and variable speed drives, and miscellaneous 600V (and below) loads, including motors, electrical heat trace, etc.

Chemco Electrical Contractors “was a key contributor and contractor for the event, and they delivered their scope safely, on time and on budget,” wrote the nominator, an electrical engineer with Shell Canada Products. The contractor achieved 1 million recordable man-hours injury-free at the Shell Scotford Complex, executing well over 100,000 man-hours of maintenance, installation and project work.

During the event, the owner and contractor worked together closely, holding daily toolbox talks to ensure questions were answered and both groups could get a safe start to the day. Turnaround and project goals were realized thanks to the safe execution Chemco delivered during the event.

For the complexity, immensity, and schedule of the event compared to industry, Chemco delivered the goods with a prominent safety record. In industry, it is recorded that an event of this magnitude has only a 10% chance of succeeding, writes the nominator, “[but it] did, in large part thanks to Chemco and their dedication to safety and Goal Zero”.

The Chemco team at the Shell Scotford facility have demonstrated once again their ability to complete work in a consistently safe manner.  An achievement like this happens when all of us are focused on understanding the risks, continuously looking to mitigate these risks and looking after each other.  Teamwork, collaboration and communication will continue to be the fundamentals to our success.

We would like to thank everyone on site and at Head Office for your contribution and the role you play in our team’s success.

See the original article online

Canadas Safest Employers Award Winner Second Year in a Row

We’re pleased to announce that Chemco has been recognized at Canada’s Safest Employers Awards in the Building & Construction category for the second year in a row. The award recognizes companies from all across Canada with outstanding accomplishments in promoting the health and safety of their workers. Companies are judged on a wide range of occupational health and safety elements, including employee training, OHS management systems, incident investigation, emergency preparedness and innovative health and safety initiatives. Thank you to all our employees for your tenacious commitment to health and safety which allowed us to receive such a prestigious award.

Canada’s Safest Employers 2015

We’re pleased to announce that Chemco has been recognized at Canada’s Safest Employers Awards in the Building & Construction category. The award recognizes companies from all across Canada with outstanding accomplishments in promoting the health and safety of their workers. Companies are judged on a wide range of occupational health and safety elements, including employee training, OHS management systems, incident investigation, emergency preparedness and innovative health and safety initiatives. Thank you to all our employees for your tenacious commitment to health and safety which allowed us to receive such a prestigious award.

Co-operation Over Competition

It came down to two men. Twenty-three years ago, Dave Hagen and Darrel McDaniel were electricians working for Chemco Electrical Contractors in Edmonton and they were both asked if they wanted to be the “safety guy” for a project in northern Alberta.

“I said ‘Um, no, not really.’ I wanted to push, I wanted to be the supervisor,” recalls McDaniel.

“I said ‘Does it pay the same?’ They said yes, so I said OK,” laughs Hagen.

The company then supported Hagen to complete a few safety courses through the Alberta Construction Safety Association (ACSA), and when it needed a safety person again for another project, Hagen accepted. Eventually, he took on the safety role full time and is now the vice-president of environmental health and safety at Chemco.

“Dave took it and we never looked back. And it’s the best thing Chemco has ever done setting him up, because Chemco has been recognized as a leader in the safety industry,” says McDaniel, now vice-president of support services at the company.


Hagen’s hard work has earned him the 2014 Safety Leader of the Year Award, presented by Canadian Occupational Safety and sponsored by Miller by Honeywell.

One of Hagen’s finest attributes is his ability to understand a worker’s perspective, says Cheryl Solesbury, wellness manager and EHS advisor at Chemco.

“He has the ability to communicate with the workers at the same level because he came from wearing boots himself,” she says. “You’ve got to get respect from the workers if you want to initiate anything new — you need to get workers to buy in.”

One way Hagen gets buy-in from workers is by involving them in decision-making. For example, several years ago, a client of Chemco’s told Hagen that his workers could no longer use knives on the job site because too many of them were getting hurt.

Hagen found different types of knives and test drove them with the workforce. The feedback from the workers, such as preferring a curved end rather than a pointy one, was integral to Hagen making a decision on what knife to buy. He also found situations where knives could be replaced with cable strippers.

“So this is the best (knife) for it, but more importantly, these are the alternatives. Where we can reduce the use of the knives, it will also reduce our exposures,” he says.

The knife safety program has earned the company a couple of awards, including the Construction Owners Association of Alberta’s Safety Leadership and Innovation Award. Since the program was implemented in 2005, Chemco has gone 20 million man hours without a recordable injury associated with knives. Hagen not only ordered more than 10,000 knives for his employees, he also ordered more than 10,000 to sell to competitors at cost. In addition, the company developed a video on how to train workers on the new processes, which Hagen shared with competitors.

“Safety is not necessarily a competitive edge,” says Hagen. “In construction, we have a limited labour pool to draw from; all employers are using the same workers from time to time. If we work collectively to have standardized processes, we are not having to retrain the workers every time they go from one company to the other, so we can collectively raise the safety bar.”

Hagen’s willingness to share information with competitors is something that stands out as part of his commitment to safety.

“People from all over the industry call him for advice, and that could be regarding modified work, our alcohol and drug program, regarding crisis situations,” says Solesbury. “That shows how much he cares about the health and safety of all Albertans, all Canadians, not just the health and safety of our group at Chemco.”

Hagen is the chairperson for the ACSA board of directors and he sits on the board for the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association. Through these associations, he works with professionals from other companies to collaborate and share ideas that benefit the industry as a whole.

Disability management

Hagen always strives to treat others the way he would want to be treated, says Solesbury, and this is evident through his disability management program.

“Dave is very compassionate about fellow workers; not only the worker, but also the family as well,” she says. “Even if you talk about non-occupational injuries… Dave is the first to go out of his way to go to the hospital, he offers assistance to the family — and this is all stuff he doesn’t have to do.”

Hagen feels very strongly about making sure incidents that occur outside the workplace are treated in a similar manner as those that happen on the job.

“If a worker says he hurt himself at home and the first thing you do is throw him to the curb and automatically say ‘It’s not my problem,’ then you may create a culture where workers say ‘Well, I know how to make this your problem, I’m going to say yesterday at work I did this.’”

Chemco has a robust disability management program that includes modified work. When workers are hurt and cannot do their regular jobs, the safety team works hard to make sure they can do meaningful, productive work, says Solesbury.

“Sometimes we have to be quite creative on what tasks we can give this guy… And that’s what Dave is really good at — thinking about that innovative modified work for that worker.”

Hagen’s passion for this program ensures nobody gets left behind, which is excellent for the company morale and overall culture, says McDaniel.

“They recognize Chemco as a caring, family place to work. It has become a large organization but people still know what our values are, people do matter, and it’s shown through (the fact that) people want to come work for us because of our safety program,” he says.

Fall protection

Over the nearly 25 years that Hagen has been in the industry, fall protection requirements have changed significantly. A few years ago, as more and more regulations were coming into effect, Hagen noticed his workers were getting piled on with more and more equipment and it was becoming quite cumbersome for them.

He decided to work with a fall protection manufacturer to find a way to meet the same needs of the workers without increasing the amount and weight of equipment. They were able to come up with a design that separated the shock absorber from the lanyard.

Not only did this new design benefit the workers, it also resulted in cost savings for the company. If a lanyard or shock absorber needed to be replaced, the manufacturer was now able to replace just one component, rather than replacing both.

Hagen worked with the manufacturer for more than one year and was successful in receiving CSA approval for the design.

The karabiners used on the fall protection equipment were also causing issues. While the workers were fumbling with attaching the karabiners to the anchor slings, the company was losing a lot of money from missing karabiners.

“One of the superintendents said it was costing them a fortune because karabiners are small and very useful off the job,” says Hagen. “We were going through five karabiners for every anchor sling we have, so I went to the manufacturer and said ‘There’s got to be something we can do about this.’”

Hagen worked with the manufacturer to develop an anchor sling with a ring and snaphook. This was not only more user-friendly, but it resulted in significant cost savings for the company and increased productivity.

“Safety’s tied hand in hand with productivity in the industry,” says McDaniel. “If you’re not injuring workers, you’re not wasting time on needless things, you’re being more productive and with this, it was producing a piece of safety gear that allowed the worker to not even think about being safe because it’s just part of their task, but (it’s) more productive as well. There’s a win-win for everybody in that situation.”

Continuous learning

Hagen is very passionate about continuous learning. One particularly popular offering among the workforce is a first-aid course for employees and their family members.

“A lot of the jobs are maybe out of town projects, so we have the worker out of town for 10 days at a time and when they come back we want to say ‘Come take a course and be away from family again’? It’s not really work-life balance, so by offering it to their spouse, they can bring them with them and they get to take that first-aid training home. And this way, we’re getting health and safety awareness at home, so you increase the culture that way,” says Hagen.

Hagen has been a strong supporter of the Leadership for Safety Excellence course. The two-day training course offered by ACSA covers several topics, including safety responsibilities of managers, supervisors and workers; company culture; inspections, reporting and followup; and training and orientation.

More than 60 per cent of the supervisors at Chemco have completed the training to date.

“Safety starts at the top level of the organization and it trickles down. From many, many years ago, Dave was continuously pushing at the executive level on how many people do we have trained on this?” says McDaniel. “And right from the senior leadership attended this (session), the project managers, the senior superintendents and at the time, this was a change. Now it’s kind of normalized, but he normalized it.”

Hagen supports the course for journeymen as well since it helps build “bench strength” by training workers who might one day want to be supervisors, he says.

He feels strongly about supporting workers with any continuing education they wish to receive. When the Industrial Construction Crew Supervisor (ICCS) designation was introduced in the province through Alberta Apprenticeship and Training, Hagen worked with the government to organize special dates for Chemco workers to write the exam. The first year the designation was launched, about 80 per cent of the recipients were Chemco workers, says Solesbury.

Hagen holds the ICCS designation himself, as well as the National Construction Officer designation, because he believes in leading by example.

“There are not too many people in the industry, not too many workers who don’t know Dave. He doesn’t sit in the corporate office and is invisible. This is a guy who goes to all the work sites and talks to the supervision, talks to the workers — he is in the field and engaged,” says McDaniel.

And McDaniel knows this first hand. In 1999, eight years after Hagen accepted the safety job, Hagen was doing a site visit on a job where McDaniel was the foreman. McDaniel was so proud to show off his workers who were all properly tied-off, wearing their safety harnesses and had their earplugs in. But Hagen was not so impressed.

“He looked at me and said ‘Where’s your safety harness?’” recalls McDaniel.

Annoyed he wasn’t praised for his accomplishments with his workers, McDaniel stomped away and muttered some choice words under his breath, but he returned to Hagen a few minutes later to apologize — with his safety harness on.

“From that day forward, I had to walk the talk. It was great that I was able to talk the talk, but he forced me to walk the talk as well, and it’s something that really changed me personally in the industry.”