Canadian TDG 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.

About the Author

Jonathan Cocker heads Baker & McKenzie’s Environmental Practice Group in Toronto, as part of the Global Environment and Climate Change practice, ranked as a Band 1 practice by Chambers and the largest environmental law practice globally.  Mr. Cocker provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environment, health and safety matters, including product content, dangerous goods transportation, regulated wastes, food and drug safety, extended producer responsibilities and contaminated lands matters.  He appears before both environmental health and safety (EHS) tribunals and civil courts across Canada. Mr. Cocker is a frequent speaker and writer on EHS matters, is a participant in a number of EHS national and international industry groups and is an author of the upcoming Encyclopedia of Environmental Law.

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