The Transport Canada Multi-Association Committee on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (MACTDG) conducted a virtual session on remote inspection activities on Feb 24, 2021. Michel Bélard from Transport Canada’s Compliance and Response Branch presented. The following topics were highlights from the discussion.

  • In March 2021, Transport Canada (TC) began developing protocols for continued inspections of facilities. They noted the important role inspections play with regards to safety and compliance but needed to address the health concerns posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The current remote inspection program was developed with the following guiding concepts:
    • Determine what could be conducted remotely;
    • Establish thresholds that would trigger an onsite visit in addition to or in place of a remote visit;
    • A need to create a new remote inspection procedure that permitted data exchange necessary for the inspector to complete the review.
  • Since March 2021, TC has conducted approximately 2,400 inspections; 90% or 2,100 have been conducted remotely.
  • Overall, the effort has been very positive.
    • Inspectors are gaining confidence in the process and protocols;
    • TC clarified that the program is not intended to replace onsite inspections, but it has given them the ability to review priority sites, inspect facilities that are physically remote, and equalize inspections to all facilities by reducing typical “opportunity” inspections because they are local or easier to visit;
    • Success in remote inspections may lead to “virtual” pre-inspection meetings for onsite visits.

Following the presentation, industry was granted an opportunity to ask questions and make comments.

  • Several participants noted that some sites have been visited more than others. TC indicated that they are reviewing how they prioritize locations and may revise based on results of the inspections, number of findings, etc.
  • One participant commented that they had experienced a lag in information exchange in one of their inspections. For example, after submitting the requested documentation, the inspector requested additional information on a particular rail car. However, the rail car had been shipped before the additional information had been provided. TC noted that this is a common problem and that inspectors were instructed to be understanding of how and when they request information, and that follow up information may be untimely or not available.
  • Based on feedback from several inspected parties, TC is developing pre-inspection questionnaires that will be modal specific. This will reduce the number of non-applicable responses given by facilities that are being inspected.

TC indicated that the information provided in the presentation as well as a document detailing what to expect during a remote inspection can be viewed on the Transport Canada website under the Bulletin Alternative Oversight Activities: Remote Oversight: