News release

TSB’s 2014 Watchlist highlights eight significant transportation safety issues

Gatineau, Quebec, 26 November 2014 – Through its updated Watchlist for 2014, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is once again raising awareness about the safety issues that pose the greatest risk to Canada’s marine, rail, and air transportation sectors.

“Our role at the TSB is to shine a spotlight on the areas where strong action must be taken by the regulator and transportation industry officials, and our evidence is found in hundreds of accident investigations, thousands of hours of research, and dozens of TSB recommendations,” said Kathy Fox, Chair of the TSB.

On this Watchlist, the one multi-modal issue is safety management and Transport Canada (TC) oversight. While all federally-regulated rail companies are required to have safety management systems (SMS), not all operators in the marine and air industry are required to have formal safety management processes to manage their risks. The TSB is therefore asking TC to require all companies to implement some formalized process to proactively identify and reduce risk.

In addition, in recent investigations, including the one into the tragic accident in Lac-Mégantic, the TSB has identified problems with TC oversight, including a failure to identify companies' ineffective processes, and an imbalance between auditing processes versus traditional inspections.

“An SMS on its own is not enough,” added Ms Fox. “That's why we are also calling on TC to regularly oversee all safety management systems and processes to ensure they are effective. And when transportation companies are unable to effectively manage safety, TC must intervene in a way that succeeds in changing unsafe operating practices.”

Furthermore, the TSB is calling on TC to ensure flammable liquids are safely transported by rail by requiring railway companies to properly classify these products, ship them in containers of the safest design, and conduct a route risk assessment to proactively mitigate risks.

Despite some progress on issues included on previous Watchlists—there are still persistent risks in all modes. On our waterways, too many Canadian fishermen are still losing their lives each year. In rail, the number of collisions with vehicles at railway crossings remains high; the problem of railway signal indications not being recognized and followed continues; and there is still no requirement for on-board locomotive video and voice recorders. And in the air industry, approach-and-landing accidents continue to occur; and there is still an ongoing risk of aircraft colliding with vehicles or other aircraft at airports.

“For each of the issues identified on our Watchlist—issues supported by our science, and our thorough examination of the facts and findings in every accident we investigate—we believe actions taken to date are insufficient,” added Ms Fox. “We expect Transport Canada and the transportation industry to take concrete steps to eliminate those identified risks. Canadians deserve no less than the safest possible transportation system.”



Safety management and oversight


Loss of life on fishing vessels


Following railway signal indications
On-board video and voice recorders
Railway crossing safety
Transportation of flammable liquids by rail


Approach-and-landing accidents
Risk of collisions on runways

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