Safety is a major reason for the Alberta Motor Transport Association’s existence. The organization’s Mission Statement underlines this commitment: We provide responsible leadership to our members by:
– Promoting and assisting in the establishment of high standards of safety and compliance for the safety of the public and our stakeholders.
– Providing proven safety management principles.
– Developing and providing training for the motor transport industry to enhance workplace health and the reduction of injuries.
– Advising government on matters concerning the highway transportation industry.
– Offering value added services to increase the profitability of our members.
– Fostering and promoting a professional image of the industry.
– Providing a forum for networking and information sharing within the industry.
The AMTA is made up of three branches: The Voice, CRA or Compliance and Regulatory Affairs, which is the government relations and business division; the Standard, consisting of the Certificate of Recognition (COR) branch and Partners in Compliance (PIC); and the Resource, being the Injury Reduction and Training (IRT) Department, developing, delivering and maintaining quality competent recognized training for the commercial transportation industry.
Let’s find out where the AMTA is taking its safety message these days.
April 6, 2018
The Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy shocked the entire world, but was especially felt on the Canadian Prairies where most of us could identify with travelling the rural highways that connect our urban centres in order to get to the next hockey game. While it was one tragic incident involving a single suspect transport truck, the entire industry was painted with an accusatory brush.
At the time, the Province of Alberta and industry stakeholders including the AMTA had a working group in place that was in the process of formulating a Mandatory Entry Driver Training program for the province, similar to that in Ontario, which was the first MELT program in a Canadian jurisdiction. The Humboldt incident emphasized the dire need for such a program. It was the catalyst for change and within a year, Alberta announced its version of MELT for Class 1 and 2 commercial drivers would take effect March 1, 2019. It followed shortly thereafter by similar MELT program announcements in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Chris Nash, President of the AMTA, tells WCHN, “Our organization has been a proponent of mandatory entry level training for years. The Humboldt crash tragedy escalated the process and we have managed to put a lot together in a relatively short time. MELT is not the end of a driver’s training, though, it’s just a start; but it’s an important start. It puts new drivers, training schools, carriers, regulators, enforcement and other industry stakeholders on the same page. No longer will each training school be creating and using its own set of teaching tools – everyone will be learning from the same playbook.”
Nash cautions, “Like any new program, there will be some wrinkles to iron out, but we will do that. I cannot emphasize enough that after graduating from MELT, the person behind the wheel is not a full-fledged commercial truck driver – in each and every case, further training will definitely be required.”
Safety Professional (CTSP) designation
In 2018, the AMTA, in partnership with Alberta Transportation and Lethbridge College, developed the Certified Transportation Safety Professional, or CTSP, designation. CTSP recognizes the career progression of safety and compliance professionals within the commercial transportation industry. This is a specialist-level designation that establishes the benchmark for the experience and knowledge required to become a Certified Transportation Safety Professional.
The full CTSP designation consists of multiple courses focusing on industry safety awareness, the first of which was rolled out in May 2018.
Chris Nash says, “There has always been a tug-of-war within the industry between Operations, who want the load delivered as quickly as possible, and the Safety Department, which wants the load delivered as safely as possible. With the introduction of MELT and our CTSP program, we cut out the guesswork, elevated the industry’s knowledge, and brought the overall level of safety to a much higher level. Today, ‘safely as possible’ is the only way to deliver a load.”
The COR challenges
A Certificate of Recognition (COR) is integral to all Alberta carriers. To achieve COR, a carrier must successfully complete all training requirements and its health and safety management system must successfully pass an audit by an external certified auditor. There are WCB premium incentives to employers who reduce their claim costs below predicted targets.
Recently the COR program has tested us. A new audit instrument brought change and with it, subsequent challenges. The AMTA and other stakeholders have worked diligently in recent months to align the external auditors with the recent changes. Erik Sherman, IRT Director at AMTA, says, “Frankly, COR auditing has been a challenge! There was a risk to employers with changes coming in so quickly, but we are satisfied that our certifying partners are now all on the same page. We’ve worked very hard to get new training out to the industry in the form of three new courses: Health and Safety System Building (HSSB), Fundamentals of Auditing, and COR Auditing Training. Once the existing auditors have successfully completed these three courses, they will be up-to-speed. We anticipate that happening by the end of June. At that point, we can begin qualifying new auditors; and as we move forward, we will continue building the baseline to improve the auditing experience.”