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News release

TSB releases new Watchlist and adopts a more proactive approach on key safety issues

Ottawa, Ontario, 31 October 2016 — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its latest safety Watchlist today, at the same time announcing a more proactive approach to engage government and industry leaders in dialogue and action that leads to safety improvements across Canada’s transportation network.

“No longer is it enough to point out a problem and wait for others to take notice,” said TSB Chair Kathy Fox. “In the next few days and weeks, we'll meet with key stakeholders to push for concrete action, and then we'll report publically on the results.”

This year's edition of the Watchlist, which identifies the key safety issues that need to be addressed in the air, marine, and rail sectors, features the addition of two new issues. “Fatigue has been a factor in numerous railway investigations, most notably regarding freight train operations,” said Fox. “Too many train crews aren't getting the rest they need, whether its shifts that are too long or irregular scheduling that interferes with normal sleep times. It's time for the railway industry to start applying fatigue science to crew scheduling, instead of calling for more studies.”

Fox said the second new issue is Transport Canada's slow progress addressing previous TSB recommendations, something that affects all aspects of the transportation network, with potentially adverse outcomes. “There are currently 52 TSB recommendations that have been outstanding for ten years or more. Over three dozen of those have been outstanding for more than twenty years,” she said. “There is no reasonable excuse for taking that long—especially in cases where TC agrees that action is needed.”

Fox added that “good intentions” on the part of the government aren't enough to reduce the very real safety risks that must be addressed. “If that were enough, the same accidents wouldn't keep happening and we wouldn't need a Watchlist.”

Eight of the ten issues on this year's Watchlist are holdovers from previous years. One previous issue, railway crossing safety, was removed from the list thanks to significant action on the part of Transport Canada, the railways and road authorities —including new grade-crossing regulations and a decline in the number of crossing accidents.

Of the other issues on this year's Watchlist, Fox said safety management systems have not yet been mandated in all sectors of the transportation industry, and TC must oversee them effectively. The safety culture in the fishing industry needs to change to prevent needless loss of life and injuries. In spite of strong safety measures taken by TC regarding transportation of flammable liquids by rail, the risk will persist in the system until the new tank car standards and effective risk controls are fully implemented. There still isn't a plan in place to implement physical defenses against railway signal indications not being followed. The railway industry is not reaping the safety benefits of on-board voice and video recorders in locomotive cabs. Airlines need to better track unstable approaches that continue to a landing to prevent accidents. While some airports are making runway ends safer to reduce the risk of runway overruns, there is no requirement to do so for all major airports. Lastly, the risk of runway incursions is too high, which could lead to a catastrophic accident.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail 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: 819-360-4376