A recent amendment to the Railway Safety Act mandates the installation of locomotive video and voice recorders and not everyone is happy about it. Railroad employees feel this equipment is a threat to their privacy and are concerned that the railway companies will have access to the recordings and can use it to conduct random samples to look for safety risks.
Union president Doug Finnson made it clear that the employees are unhappy about this amendment by saying “From the workers’ perspective, the government has abandoned them. “I’m particularly pissed at this.”
Transport Minister Marc Garneau responded to this concern by stating “There will be very defined times when these can be used and it’s in order to improve safety.” Mr. Finnson believes the government will not be able to control how railway companies use the information gathered from the LVVR equipment. “Transport Canada can’t enforce the regulations they have right now. I have absolutely no confidence in the employer adhering to any kinds of rules and regulations about access.”
Union claims legislation requiring video recording on trains violates workers’ privacy
Voice and video recorders will soon be installed on locomotives in Canada. Despite the privacy concerns of railroad employees, TSB and Transport Canada believe using locomotive voice and video recorders (LVVR) will enhance railroad safety. The data collected will be used by TSB for accident and incident investigations, federally regulated companies to conduct analysis through random sampling in order to identify safety concerns as part of ongoing safety management, and Transport Canada for policy development.
President and CEO of Railway Association of Canada, Michael Bourque, stated “We are very pleased with the provision on locomotive voice and video recorders, this technology is working to increase safety in other jurisdictions where it has been deployed. This requirement addresses a key Transportation Safety Board recommendation that has been on its Watchlist since 2012 ”
Canada’s railways support mandatory installation of locomotive voice and video recorders to increase safety
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is recommending Transport Canada develop strategies to reduce the severity of derailments that involve dangerous goods.
This recommendation follows the investigation into the February 14, 2015 derailment of 100 tank cars carrying petroleum crude oil. The accident caused 1.7 million liters of crude oil to spill, ignite and burn for five days. The derailment was caused when joint bars in the tracks failed. This could have been prevented, however, had previous inspections noticed fatigue cracks in the joint bars at that particular location. The pre-existing cracks in combination with cold temperatures and repetitive impacts from trains caused the joint bars to fail. During the course of the investigation it was determined that the training, on the job mentoring, and supervisory support that is provided to an assistant track supervisor are insufficient.
Kathy Fox, Chair of the TSB, stated “This accident occurred at a speed below the maximum speed permitted by the Transport Canada approved Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes. The TSB is concerned that the current speed limits may not be low enough for some trains—particularly unit trains carrying flammable liquids. We are also calling for Transport Canada to look at all of the factors, including speed, which contributed to the severity of derailments, to develop mitigating strategies and to amend the rules accordingly.”
She went on to say “The Transportation of flammable liquids by rail has been on the TSB Watchlist since 2014. While stronger tank cars are being built, the current ones will be in service for years to come. The risks will also remain until all of the factors leading to derailments and contributing to their severity are mitigated. This is the focus of the recommendation we issued today.”
TSB calls for strategies to reduce severity of dangerous goods derailments following investigation into February 2015 accident near Gogama, Ontario
Canada has made some changes to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) to align more closely with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
While the changes won’t officially be mandatory until June 1, 2017, suppliers are able to begin following the new requirements for hazardous products that are sold, distributed, or imported into Canada now.
Some of the important changes being made to WHMIS include more comprehensive hazard classification criteria that will now include indications on the severity of the hazards, additional hazard classes, physical hazard criteria that will now be more consistent with TDG regulations, standardized language, and standardized SDS format. In addition, employers must have an education and training in place for their employees.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is holding a news conference on August 19 to release its investigation report from the July 2013 Lac-Megantic derailment. The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway derailment, which killed 47 people and destroyed more than 30 buildings, was the fourth deadliest in Canadian history. The investigation has been ongoing for more than a year. Fortress Investment Group, LLC, who purchased the MMA’s lines in the United States and Canada, voluntarily agreed not to move any crude oil or hazardous materials through Lac-Megantic until at least 2016.
Read the full article: Central Maine & Quebec: A new railroad aiming for a new business approach