TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 07/04/13 -- The guilty verdict in the Sunrise Propane case last week has thrust the incompetence of the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) into the spotlight once again. The TSSA is responsible for protecting public safety in key areas such as fuel and elevators. Since it was privatized, it has become a classic example of how self-regulation is ineffective, inadequate and dangerous.
On Thursday June 27 Sunrise Propane was convicted of nine violations of environmental and safety regulations following an explosion in August 2008 that killed a worker, injured several nearby residents and sent debris, asbestos and fear through a Toronto neighbourhood. A firefighter was also killed fighting a fire caused by the explosion. In this tragic accident, inadequate TSSA oversight led to entirely avoidable deaths and injuries.
"The judge's comments that the TSSA was aware that illegal truck-to-truck transfers, like the one that caused the explosion, were taking place and failed to take action is confirmation that industry cannot effectively regulate itself," said President of the Ontario Federation of Labour Sid Ryan, "and proof that when they are left to do so accidents happen."
This ruling comes just weeks after a shocking conflict of interest involving the TSSA was revealed during the elevator workers strike. During the strike, the TSSA announced that they would allow elevators to continue running without maintenance tasks being completed to minimize the impact on the public. Meanwhile one of the members of their Board of Directors, Kevin Lavallee, was also a chief negotiator for the employer in the dispute.
"We all know minor safety violations can quickly escalate into major accidents," said Ryan. "But it's not surprising that the TSSA took this irresponsible position because declaring elevators in the province unsafe would have essentially undercut Lavallee's own bargaining position."
Despite the Sunrise Propane tragedy and the safety crisis created during the elevator worker strike, the TSSA continues to be responsible for the protection of public and worker safety in the areas of fuels, elevating devices, amusement devices, ski lifts, boilers and pressure vessels, operating engineers, and upholstered and stuffed articles. Oversight in these areas used to be administered by the provincial government, until the responsibility was downloaded in 1997.
"The TSSA is supposed to be accountable to the public, but its funding and many of its directors come from industry so its clear where they owe their allegiance," said Ryan. "We cannot wait for another tragedy to occur before taking action. The TSSA must be brought back into public hands."
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour and follow OFL President Sid Ryan at @SidRyan_OFL.
Ontario Federation of Labour
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