The Dangerous Goods Committee of the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC), in conjunction with the Canadian Council for Aviation & Aerospace (CCAA), is working toward developing a national occupational standard (NOS) for transportation of dangerous goods program administrators. The aim is to develop a voluntary recognition of industry requirements for professionals engaged in the air transport of dangerous goods. Once finalized, the NOS will recognize dangerous goods professionals, adding credibility to those who achieve the standard. Organizations looking for DG expertise will appreciate that consultants, service providers and trainers have the necessary knowledge and skills for the job. This is will NOT be a mandatory requirement for individuals working in the dangerous goods area, but it will help them meet and exceed regulatory requirements.
The aviation industry in Canada is moving towards a performance-oriented program though the mandatory implementation of safety management systems (SMS). Dangerous goods programs are a key component of these systems, yet there is little guidance in the regulations as to how these programs fit within the overall scheme of SMS. A need to develop guidance and direction for the industry was identified, and the creation of this NOS was born.
Originally, the development of the national occupational standard was geared toward the dangerous goods trainer; however the ATAC DG committee realized that the standard had application beyond the training community, so the scope was broadened. While a dangerous goods trainer is a valuable commodity, there are many aspects the air operator is expected to comply with beyond the legal requirement for an adequate training program. Currently, the goal and mission is to develop a well-rounded expert in the field of transportation of dangerous goods, generating expertise in a number of operational areas, including:
- Corporate Direction – A knowledgeable professional can assist in setting corporate direction, policy and planning by determining which dangerous goods should be accepted by the air carrier and which goods should be prohibited for safety or strategic reasons.
- Corporate Safety – While any dangerous goods program is safety-orientated, a general DG professional can extend his/her knowledge beyond the classroom by determining and preparing emergency response plans, evacuation plans, liaison with airport emergency responders and local health care professionals.
- DG Program Development – Even without specializing in specific dangerous goods, all air operators require a dangerous goods chapter within their operations manual and a solid knowledge of air operations, flight lanes and licensing/permits is required to ensure the DG program coincides with regular operations.
- Legislative/Regulatory Awareness – Being an overall expert in DG operations allows the dangerous goods professional to participate in legislative and regulatory development through consultation with Transport Canada and various trade associations. This provides input to law-making that could have a dramatic effect on company operations and operating costs.
- Instructional Skills – Ensuring that the DG professional has the appropriate knowledge base and skills application for effective training development and delivery is of key importance.
The standard will have a tiered approach with various levels of expertise built in, allowing for flexibility and multiple levels of competency to be achieved. Currently, the data-gathering exercise is underway in several regions across Canada and targeted focus groups are drilling down to try and identify the specifics that will make up the final published standard.
It is an exciting process involving many cross-sections of the aviation industry, with the ultimate goal being the level of safety raised across the board. We will keep you posted on the progress being made in the months to come.