Communicating risks across organizations and to contractors


Mrs Kathleen EizabethBaker, Dr Renato Macciotta, Dr Lianne Lefsrud, Ms Julie Zettl, Dr Michael Hendry

Risk communication is the dissemination of information from an organization to its stakeholders. Typically, this is open two-way communication of known hazards from an organization to the public. However, we have identified a gap in the communication of risks within organizations to employees and contractors. Workers are voluntarily exposing themselves to unidentified hazards, sometimes without knowing the risk level. This has recently been illustrated in the oil sands industry after tragic fatalities related to unseen and unknown ground hazards at tailings storage and transport facilities. Thus, in research, we ask: How can we identify and communicate risks not only to workers who interact with these facilities daily but also to contractors who are intermittently exposed? We have conducted interviews with frontline workers, safety advisors, supervisors, leadership and contractors to determine the hazards the workers see on the job site. Responses varied significantly across working groups and experience levels. We will be using traditional risk communication practices to enhance the dialogue regarding risks between workers, contractors and across the organization. We aim to increase the level of familiarity and decrease complacency with the hazards on site through tailings specific training, formal mentorship programs and geohazard databases.