Meet the Transport Canada Inspectors: Ensuring dangerous goods move safely in Atlantic Canada

One by one, trucks rumble up to the weigh scales in Amherst, Nova Scotia. It is the annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance truck blitz at the Nova ScotiaNew Brunswick border. This event allows federal and provincial partners to get up close and personal with drivers and their rigs.

Provincial commercial vehicle enforcement officers, with help from inspectors Wally Chivers and Cluny Nichols of Transport Canada’s Atlantic Region Transportation of Dangerous Goods team, will thoroughly inspect trucks carrying “dangerous goods”.

“We are looking at all aspects of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (Regulations). This includes making sure shippers have properly identified, contained and shipped their dangerous goods; and drivers can prove they are properly trained,” said Wally Chivers, a 26-year veteran of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods team. “We are checking for compliance with the Regulations in those areas. More than that, though, it is a great opportunity to meet and develop relationships with drivers and the companies they represent. We have noted that the better those relationships are, the safer the loads will be.”

According to the Regulations, trucks carrying dangerous goods must be clearly marked with signs that identify the specific products they carry. Drivers must have verifiable training certificates to transport dangerous goods. Products must be shipped in containers that meet specific safety standards.

“Matching documentation to loads and training requirements, and checking means of containment is important,” said Cluny Nichols. “But so is talking to the driver and hearing where they’re coming from, where they’re going, the types of products they’re carrying, and how their day is going.”

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance safety blitz is also a great opportunity for federal and provincial partner departments to get a better idea of how their respective teams function. Colleagues from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, representatives from several Nova Scotia government departments, and safety officers from transportation and hazardous response companies work side by side at the scales, conducting compliance inspections and monitoring the safe movement of all types of goods during this particular event.

While inspectors take enforcement action as required, they agree their most important role is educating and working with industry to help drivers understand how Transport Canada’s standards and regulations keep Canada’s roads safer. Wally has been to dangerous goods spill sites over the course of his career, and says his team’s efforts in promoting the importance of complying with the Regulations — with a focus on safety and preventing accidents — has made a positive impact on the transportation of dangerous goods.