Rob Van Walleghem, C-Suite Energy Executive Awards CLO of the Year

After the Calgary flood, Tervita Corp. is now in a position to share its clauses, contracts and legal expertise in disaster relief

Rob Van Walleghem, Tervita executive vice-president of HSE and general counsel
Photograph Daniel Wood

Rob Van Walleghem takes the safety of workers at his company very seriously. Whenever he visits a Tervita Corp. work site, he asks himself, “Would I be comfortable allowing one of my four boys to work here?”

Van Walleghem is Tervita’s executive vice-president of HSE and general counsel and his department is responsible for overseeing what he describes as the company’s “Number 1 priority – safety.” Van Walleghem is also a member of the board for the Job Safety Skills Society, a not-for-profit which exists to “address the unacceptable number of workplace injuries and fatalities among young workers to ensure that young workers are properly trained for safety before they enter the workforce.” As a result of the society’s work, more than 650 high schools use its materials (which are available free of charge) to teach more than 115,000 students about occupational health and safety.

In the future, those students may end up working for Tervita, which employs over 5,000 people and undertakes some very dangerous work. It was Tervita, for instance, that worked to retrieve the CP Rail trains that nearly fell into the Bow River after the Calgary flood partially washed out the supports on the railway bridge. Tervita was also the company hired to do the cleanup of the Calgary Stampede grounds after the flood and Van Walleghem says, “The hardest thing we had to do was turn people away who wanted to help.” But he says this was required by the company’s HSE and legal policies. In fact, the experience of cleaning up after a natural disaster had Tervita’s team working around the clock.

“The legal issues encountered include, but are not limited to, those associated with contracts, occupational health and safety, privacy, media and community relations, government relations, employment law and tort law, to name a few,” Van Walleghem says. The company is now in a position to share that expertise, including the contracts and clauses written up by Van Walleghem’s legal team, in a future natural disaster.

Van Walleghem, Alberta Oil’s Chief Legal Officer of the Year, credits support from the executive team at Tervita for his success in building a “scalable, efficient and responsive” in-house legal team. It was this team that slogged through the mountain of legal paperwork required to bring 13 different companies together under Tervita in 2012. It is this team that also oversees HSE at the company frequently hired to do the industry’s most dangerous work. Van Walleghem says the company’s work during the flood allowed it to grow into its still-new brand. “Before, we were a house of brands. Now we are a branded house,” Van Walleghem says. “In 2012, we rebranded as Tervita. During the floods, we became Tervita.”

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