Transportation safety issues being neglected: TSB

by MM&D staff

GATINEAU, Quebec—Transport Canada isn’t taking enough measures to address safety problems in the country’s transportation network.

That conclusion, drawn by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), has caused the agency to take steps of its own to draw attention to what it sees as persistent and neglected issues.

Whenever the TSB finds safety deficiencies during an accident investigation, it issues specific recommendations designed to prevent similar situations from happening again. Those recommendations are directed toward industry members and organizations and toward the government regulators who oversee the marine, aviation, rail and pipeline industries.

According to TSB chair Wendy Tadros, those recommendations aren’t being acted upon quickly enough.

“Canadians deserve to be informed about safety, and these reassessments will help them track the progress made by Transport Canada,” she said. “When we see little movement from the regulator on our recommendations, we need to raise the red flag—and that is what we are doing today.”

The red flag comes in the form of the TSB’s annual reassessment of the responses to its recommendations. It has found that there has been “slow progress” on a number of outstanding issues, particularly in the aviation sector, and it wants Transport Canada to “intensify efforts” on correcting the problems.

The TSB says only 60 percent of the recommendations it put forward to improve aviation safety have been acted upon in a way that is “fully satisfactory”.

It also says there have been recent accidents directly related to issues that have already received recommendations from the TSB. Some of those accidents involve post-impact fires, a situation that has been addressed by the TSB in three separate recommendations, all of which have gone dormant due to lack of action. The TSB also noted that “not enough is being done to address a recommendation which calls on Transport Canada to require airports with Code 4 runways (1,800m) to have a 300m runway end safety area or a means of stopping aircraft that provides an equivalent level of safety—landing accidents and runway overruns are on the TSB Watchlist”.

While the situation is bad enough in the aviation sector to cause concern to TSB officials, safety issues in the country’s rail and marine sectors are being addressed in a more timely fashion.

On the marine side, the TSB said marine safety has improved and recommendations that had been on the TSB’s watchlist have been dealt with in a manner that is “fully satisfactory”.

While there was improvement in rail safety regulations, the TSB did say that “safety at railway crossings remains a significant risk. Many of the outstanding recommendations have not been fully addressed and there have been several railway crossing accidents in recent years”. The TSB also added that it is still involved in ongoing efforts to introduce voice and video recorders into locomotives.