Canadian Transportation of Dangerous Goods Training – From “Adequate” to “Competent”

Transport Canada has released for comment a White Paper, Training in the Transportation of Dangerous Goods: A White Paper, outlining the changes it is proposing to the training requirements for individuals responsible for transporting dangerous goods in and out of Canada.

 “Competency” to be Proven

Concerns have been expressed, often post-incident, as to the sufficiency and quality of training of company dangerous goods representatives.  The White Paper represents a fundamental training threshold shift from mandating ‘adequately trained’ representatives to demonstrable ‘competent persons’  Included within these certification changes will be:

  • competency-based training and assessments (CBTA), including performance expectations based on an individual’s job functions;
  • standards and guidelines to supplement the CBTA framework; and
  • standardized dangerous goods testing administered by the public sector.

These changes will mean that company dangerous goods representatives will need to meet demonstrated testing standards in order to quality or remain tasked with dangerous goods administration.  Companies may look upon these testing changes as better due diligence protections than past self-reporting of training “adequacy”.

Transport Canada is also proposing the mandating of employee skills necessary to perform dangerous goods-related job-related functions, as well as performance criteria for assessing the outcome.

More Coordination With Provinces / Territories

The training changes are part of a larger effort by Transport Canada to better coordinate with provincial and territorial governments, which also have some jurisdiction over dangerous goods transportation requirements.  It’s less clear if a long-term move towards harmonization, as has occurred with WHMIS, might be in store for dangerous goods movements.

Jonathan D. Cocker heads the Firm’s Environmental Practice Group in Canada and is an active member of firm Global Consumer Goods & Retail and Energy, Mining and Infrastructure groups. Mr. Cocker provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environment, health and safety matters, including product content, dangerous goods transportation, GHS, regulated wastes, consumer product and food safety, extended producer responsibilities and contaminated lands matters. He appears before both EHS tribunals and civil courts across Canada. Mr. Cocker is a frequent speaker and writer on EHS matters, an active participant on EHS issues in a number of national and international industry associations and the recent author of the first edition of The Environment and Climate Change Law Review (Canada chapter) and the upcoming Encyclopedia of Environmental Law (Chemicals chapter).