Feds study electronic documents for dangerous goods

OTTAWA, Ont. - Transport Canada is exploring ways that electronic documents could be used when shipping dangerous goods, and it's asking shippers, carriers, first responders, and enforcement personnel to help gather related insights. "The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations currently requires a physical paper shipping document to follow most dangerous goods while they are in transport," the regulator says, describing the "sandbox" being used to collect information. "Unfortunately, paper documents can be lost or destroyed, which can cause delays in emergency response."

Electronic shipping documents, it adds, are easier to read, simpler to update, quicker to share with emergency responders, and can be integrated with other digital business processes. They also align with international regulations, and offer added flexibility. Still, Transport Canada stresses that it is not removing paper shipping documents or creating a central database of shipping documents.

"The goal of this project is simply to look at whether electronic shipping documents can provide the same or greater level of safety than paper documents," it says. Road, air, marine and rail transportation is being considered, as well as rural and urban environments - including areas with limited or no internet or cell coverage. The benefits, costs and performance of electronic shipping documents will need to be examined before any regulatory changes are proposed.

Carriers will need to apply for an equivalency certificate if they want to participate. Those who participate in the study will also need to:

  • register with the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC)
  • communicate shipping document information to first responders, inspectors, and CANUTEC within five minutes
  • provide a point of contact who can provide shipping document information when the dangerous goods are being transported
  • for road vehicles, display a sign (provided by Transport Canada), advising that electronic shipping documents are being used
  • send a report every six months that describes any incidents that have occurred
  • supply information related to the use of electronic shipping documents, such as the impacts or benefits on operational activities, training, equipment, and administrative activities

Some companies will be asked to participate in emergency response simulations, too. Pilot testing and simulations are schedule to run from 2020-22.

For more information visit: https://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/dangerous-goods/regulatory-sandbox-electronic-shipping-documents.html

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