Report from the OH&S Canada magazine (May 2016)

Transport Canada (TC) marked Rail Safety Week with pledges to improve the safety of the country’s rail system and the transportation of dangerous goods through funding and a new protective direction.

On April 27, 2016, federal Minister of Transportation, Marc Garneau, announced that TC will provide more than $10.9 million to the Grade Crossing Improvement Program, which aims to upgrade railway crossings across Canada based on traffic volume and accident history. The amount is expected to cover improvements to more than 400 railway crossings.

“A safe and secure national rail-transportation system is important to local communities and to Canada’s economic well-being,” Garneau says.

The following day, Garneau announced a new protective direction concerning transportation of dangerous goods. Protective direction 36, which took effect immediately, increases the amount of information that every class I railway – defined as a rail company whose revenue topped $250 million during each of the previous two years – must provide to municipalities and first responders so as to enhance emergency planning, risk assessment and training.

Protective Direction 36 is an expansion of Protective Direction 32, which had been in effect since November 2013 in response to the Lac-Mégantic disaster.

The following are among the requirements of the direction:

  • Class I railways must provide dangerous-goods reports to municipalities twice a year immediately and quarterly within the next 24 months;
  • Railways must adopt a standardized format for presenting these data;
  • Class 1 railways must post public reports online, breaking down the 10 most common dangerous goods transported through each province; and
  • Communities may share dangerous-goods data with emergency planners and emergency-response officials within their jurisdictions or with whom they have joint mutual-aid agreements.

My opinion

I find the federal safety legislation is usually late to the safety table and federal enforcement, compared to their provincial counterparts, (except for Alberta) is slow to say the least.

Take a look at the telecommunications sector and their need to drop down into the sewer system to check fibre-optics. There may be a Confined Space Entry permit, maybe not, but if there is, it is not prominently posted as required under Ontario law and Fall Protection training is minimal at best.

Enforcement is more reactive than proactive. Ask any provincial health and safety person for validation.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs.

Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.