June 8, 2022

Safety training extends beyond on-site crew 

Working underground in confined spaces is part of a day’s work for many of our crews, but it is out of the norm for most people. Michels Canada is currently rehabilitating a 1.5 km section of the sanitary sewage system in the City of Markham, Ontario (population 350,000), about 30 minutes’ drive north of Toronto. In a sanitary sewer, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gases are released from the sewage flowing through the concrete pipe and eventually deteriorate the walls of the concrete pipe. 

Phase one of the project was completed in 2019 by Michels Canada and work on Phase 2 began in the fall of 2021 with an anticipated completion by the end of 2023. 

The project has many challenges for Michels Canada workers, including working in a confined space in a live sewer and accessing the sewer pipe via shafts at depths of more than 45 metres.  Safety is the cornerstone of Michels culture and working at these depths presents a unique challenge to ensure the safety of our workers. 

Emergency response pre-planning is crucial on effectively responding to an actual emergency. The main objectives are to prevent injuries, protect the community and maintain business continuity. 

To ensure efficient, safe, and proper response in the unlikely event of an emergency rescue situation, Michels Canada invited the Markham Fire Department to the jobsite for an introduction to the environment, specialized equipment, points of entry, site-specific safety procedures, worker training and other information that would be difficult to explain during an emergency. The fire department members took photos and captured specific details of the site to formulate their incident response plan, should it ever be needed.  

Future visits will be planned as the site changes during construction. Thank you to the Markham Fire Department for taking the time to learn more about the specialized work we do and how to respond effectively and swiftly in the event of an emergency. 

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