Appearance at TRAN: Supplemental Mandate Letter and on the pre-entry testing requirements


LOCATION: Vancouver (Delta Port), British Columbia

ISSUE: An employee of Toronto Terminal Railway was seriously injured while conducting switching activities on Canadian National Railway property.

DATE: November 26, 2020


  • Rail safety is my top priority. Consistent with this priority, Transport Canada is committed to protecting all Canadians who live and work along rail lines by putting in place the necessary measures to reduce the risk of serious accidents.
  • Transport Canada is aware that a Toronto Terminal Railway employee was seriously injured during a switching operation at the Delta Port, British Columbia. The Department is conducting an occupational health and safety investigation into the causes of this accident.
  • Transport Canada has recently taken steps to address safety issues involving uncontrolled movement of railway equipment. Specifically, on September 30, 2020, a Ministerial Order was issued to railway companies to mitigate safety risks when employees conduct switching operations.
  • Transport Canada will monitor the next steps taken by rail companies to improve the safety of rail employees and all Canadians who live and work along rail lines.


  • Under Part II of the Canada Labour Code, Transport Canada cannot share the details of occupational health and safety investigations.

Background information

On November 26, 2020 a Toronto Terminal Railway employee, a conductor, was serious injured while switching cars in Delta Port, BC on Canadian National property when the employee’s foot was caught between rail cars.

TC is responsible for the administration and enforcement of Part II of the Canada Labour Code and its pursuant regulations by the Minister of Labour for employees working on board trains.  On behalf of Employment and Social Development Canada, TC has a statutory requirement to conduct occupational health and safety investigations into workplace accidents that have resulted in the death of employees working on board trains. 

TC is conducting an investigation under Part II of the Canada Labour Code into this serious injury. The primary purpose of this investigation is to understand the circumstances surrounding the occurrence so that a recurrence can be prevented. In addition, the investigation determines if violations to Part II of the Canada Labour Code took place, and what compliance activities, if any, should be taken.

The Transportation Safety Board was made aware of this accident by TC Pacific Region and decided not to investigate.

Ministerial Order on Switching

On September 30, 2020, the Minister of Transport issued a Ministerial Order, requiring railway companies to address safety risks associated with railway employees conducting switching operations. This measure was taken in follow-up to the tragic incident involving a foreman in Melville, Saskatchewan, which involved an uncontrolled movement of rail cars while performing switching operations.

As a result of Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the incident in Melville, the following recommendation were made to Transport Canada:

“The Department of Transport work with the railway industry and its labour representatives to identify the underlying causes of uncontrolled movements that occur while switching without air, and develop and implement strategies and/or regulatory requirements to reduce their frequency” (Transportation Safety Board Recommendation R20-01).

In response to the recommendation, Transport Canada issued the Ministerial Order on switching, and noted that Transport Canada continues to work on revisions to the Railway Employee Qualification Standards Regulations to address gaps related to training and experience of employees to ensure that they can safely conduct their duties.

Uncontrolled movements

Transport Canada has taken many steps to strengthen rail safety, including implementing stricter rules to secure trains and reduce the risk of uncontrolled movement of rail equipment.  For example, the Department revised Rule 112 of the Canadian Rail Operating Rules on train securement requiring additional physical defences to secure unattended trains. Rule 112 provides uniformity in hand brake application by requiring handbrakes to be applied according to a chart that is based on train tonnage and grade. The Rule also requires an additional means of securement when equipment is left unattended on main track, sidings, subdivision track, and high risk locations.

In April 2020, Transport Canada approved a new Rule 66 of the Canadian Rail Operating Rules, which will help ensure that effective safety procedures are applied to all trains that come to emergency stops on both heavy grades and mountain grades. This change to the Canadian Rail Operating Rules puts into place additional permanent layers of defence to secure attended trains and prevent an uncontrolled movement on both heavy grades and mountain grades.