News release

TSB encouraged by rail safety advancements, concerned by stalled progress in aviation and in fishing safety

Gatineau, Quebec, 21 May 2015 - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its annual reassessment of responses to Board recommendations. The reassessments show that while there has been positive movement to improve rail safety, progress towards advancing safety continues to be slow in the aviation and fishing industries.

Recommendations are made when the Board identifies systemic safety issues that pose a serious risk to Canada's transportation system. The Board then reassesses its active recommendations on an annual basis to determine what progress has been made, and to make those accountable for safety in the transportation system aware of outstanding issues.

“Recent initiatives to improve railway crossing safety and the transportation of flammable liquids by rail are encouraging. However, we are concerned that more needs to be done to prevent approach-and-landing accidents and that fishing vessel safety regulations have yet to be put in force.” said Kathy Fox, Chair of the TSB.

The Board is encouraged by the action taken to improve safety in the rail industry, with seven additional recommendations receiving the highest rating of Fully Satisfactory. The new Grade Crossings Regulations will address a number of outstanding recommendations on railway crossing safety. The Board also believes that Transport Canada's announcement of tougher tank car standards will help make the transportation of crude oil by rail safer once they are fully implemented. In the meantime, the Board calls upon Transport Canada to ensure that risk control measures during the transition are effectively managed.  Also, more progress still needs to be made for physical defences against misinterpreting or not following railway signals.

In aviation, Transport Canada has been slow to respond to some recommendations regarding aircraft certification requirements, particularly in the areas of post-impact fires. Progress is also slow in addressing two recommendations which would prevent or minimize the consequences of approach-and-landing accidents, as described in the TSB Watchlist. On the other hand, offshore helicopter operations will become safer, as people aboard those flights will require emergency breathing apparatuses and flights will only be conducted if the sea conditions allow for safe ditching in the event of an emergency.

In the marine mode, progress towards advancing fishing vessel safety is stalled by delays in enacting the new Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations. The new regulations will require additional emergency equipment, education and vessel stability information. Until the regulations are in force, lives will continue to be lost. Because of the delays, the Board has reassessed five fishing vessel safety recommendations and assigned the lowest rating of Unsatisfactory. That said, the Board is pleased that Transport Canada and other stakeholders have developed the National Places of Refuge Contingency Plan and regional plans have been completed, posted and exercised for all regions. This will mitigate risks associated with navigation-related emergencies.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053