About the TSB
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is an independent agency created by an Act of Parliament (the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act) on 29 March 1990 with the mandate to advance safety in air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation in Canada.
Transcript of the video about the TSB
The phone rings in the middle of the night. There's been an accident, and somewhere in Canada, the men and women who work at the Transportation Safety Board prepare to go to work.
At the TSB, our mandate is to advance transportation safety by conducting independent investigations into selected transportation occurrences, whether marine, pipeline, rail, or aviation. That means finding out what happened, why it happened, and what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again. With eight regional offices—in addition to our headquarters and engineering laboratory in the national capital region—we can deploy to any corner of Canada, and beyond our borders when required.
An investigation's initial days are busy with what's known as the “field phase.” We arrive at the accident site and begin to document what we find: the environment, the wreckage … anything relevant to the investigation. We conduct interviews with witnesses, survivors, and company representatives, as well as gather maintenance and training records, and weather information. If there's a voice or data recorder, we'll take it with us, or download the information it contains for further study.
The next steps are all about the science. Our experts disassemble engines, brakes, rotors, and instrumentation. If it moves, whirs or hums, we'll look inside to see what role it may have played. Materials analysis, photogrammetry, a digital x-ray, and 3-D laser scanning … we have some sophisticated equipment at our disposal.
And then there's the human element. What did the crew see? What about the regulations, the operational environment, or organizational factors including safety management? No one ever sets out to have an accident, so how exactly did events unfold? In other words, if we can understand the factors underlying the decisions that were made, we may be able to gain valuable insight.
The last step is to write a report that states the facts, explains our analysis, and communicates our findings to Canadians. If risks continue to exist, we point them out, and when strong safety action is required, we make compelling arguments for change—until all safety deficiencies are addressed. That said, we don't always wait until the conclusion of an investigation to communicate. If we identify pressing safety issues we immediately inform the regulator and industry.
Since the TSB was created in 1990, the men and women who work here have been a dedicated group, passionate about their work. Whether they're investigators, laboratory engineers or scientists, communications specialists, IT and human resources experts, or finance and administrative support, they all share a common mission: making Canada safer. And so as the transportation industry and the landscape continue to evolve, we'll keep pushing for the changes that need to be made. That's our commitment—to Canada and to the world.
The Board itself has up to five members, including a chairperson (see the current members). A staff of about 220, led by the chief operating officer and the Executive Committee, supports the Board (see the organizational structure and A career with the TSB).
The TSB's head office is in Gatineau, Quebec, but most of its investigators work from field offices across the country so that they can respond quickly to transportation occurrences (either accidents or incidents) anywhere in Canada.
The TSB's mandate—as described in the Act that governs its work—is to advance safety in air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation by
- conducting independent investigations, including public inquiries when necessary, into selected transportation occurrences, in order to make findings regarding their causes and contributing factors;
- identifying safety deficiencies, as evidenced by transportation occurrences;
- making recommendations designed to eliminate or reduce such safety deficiencies;
- reporting publicly on our investigations and findings in relation thereto.
While it is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability, the Board reports fully on the causes and contributing factors of an occurrence, even in cases where fault or liability might be inferred from the Board's findings. Findings of the Board are not binding on the parties to any legal, disciplinary, or other proceedings.
To instill public confidence in the TSB, it is essential that the agency be free of any conflict of interest when investigating accidents, identifying safety deficiencies, and making recommendations. That is why the TSB is independent and separate from other government departments. It currently reports to Parliament through the President of the King's Privy Council for Canada.
The TSB and other organizations
The TSB's mandate is distinct from those of other organizations such as Transport Canada, the Canadian Energy Regulator, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Department of National Defense, all of which have a role in the transportation sector.
- Transport Canada is concerned with developing and administering policies, regulations, and services for transportation systems in Canada with respect to federally regulated air, marine, and rail modes of transportation.
- The Canadian Energy Regulator is responsible for regulating pipelines under federal jurisdiction.
As an independent federal agency, the TSB is not associated with any of these organizations. It does, however, cooperate with them when conducting investigations and making safety recommendations.
When the TSB investigates an accident, no federal department except the Department of National Defense may investigate for the purpose of making findings as to the causes and contributing factors of the accident.
Transport Canada and the Canadian Energy Regulator may investigate for any other purpose, such as regulatory infractions.
The TSB, a leader in its field, shares knowledge and experience with the international transportation safety community to advance transportation safety worldwide. The Agency also participates in foreign investigations to represent Canadian interests and, occasionally, to provide investigation services (see International collaboration).