The sting of a little known organization dedicated to the safe handling of fuel products was felt by at least one unscrupulous fuel supplier who was hit with a hefty fine.
The Fuels Safety Division of the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) launched the investigation that led to charges against a Strathroy fuel supplier found guilty under the Gasoline Handling Act and ordered to pay $13,000 in fines.
Not many of Ontario’s citizens realize that when they are filling their car at a gasoline station, turning on their furnace or lighting their propane barbecue, they have come into contact with some of the many public safety services provided by the Fuels Safety Division (FSD) of TSSA.
This is the first in a series of articles from the staff of this organization. More light will be shed on this organization as well as answers to questions from the petroleum industry to clarify Ontario’s Gasoline Handling Code.
This article explains the role of the TSSA and particularly the role of the Fuels Safety Division.
FSD promotes the safe transportation, storage, handling and use of hydrocarbon fuels and equipment (such as gasoline, propane, natural gas and fuel oil) to protect the public and to prevent damage from leaks, spills, fires and explosions.
The division regulates all major fuel users and utilities, transport trucks and pipelines.
Other responsibilities include the registration of fuel storage tanks at private outlets and licenses, which are issued for fuel distribution systems, bulk transporters, and retail outlets.
Tradesmen and women, such as gas and oil burner technicians, are certified by TSSA and fuels contractors must be registered with TSSA.
FSD administers two regulations under Ontario’s Gasoline Handling Act and six separate regulations under the provincial Energy Act.
Under these acts and regulations, engineering staff approve site plans for fuel outlets, revise technical safety codes and evaluate requests for deviations from the Ontario codes.
The inspection staff inspects new facilities such as gasoline stations prior to their opening for business, and conduct audit inspections of operating facilities, tanker trucks and contractors.
FSD inspectors also issue instructions and directives, investigate accidents and shut down unsafe equipment and facilities.
Both engineers and inspectors may testify at prosecutions and inquests.
Staff also promote client and public education by writing information materials to educate consumers and industry about safety issues.
Divisional staff also work closely with industry to resolve specific problems that may arise.
For example, FSD is currently delivering a public safety information program aimed at preventing incidents of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning – most of which involve improperly maintained fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, water heaters and boilers.
FSD believes that greater public awareness and understanding of CO hazards is the best safeguard against incidents.
FSD is working with other fuels safety experts to expand the scope of the program through ongoing, co-ordinated educational and promotional activities throughout the year.
FSD staff contribute to the development of safety standards by actively participating on code committees of the Canadian Gas Association, Canadian General Standards Board, Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada and the Canadian Standards Association International.
The Division also liaisons with other jurisdictions across North America in order to promote national and international standards in fuels safety.
So the next time you fill your car at a gas station or fire up the barbecue, you can rest assured that staff of the Fuels Safety Division of TSSA are working behind the scenes on fuel safety to reduce the potential for danger.
Disaster and tragedy swirl around the mundane
Nothing increases awareness about safety like a close call with disaster or worse, when tragedy strikes.
For two hapless passengers who recently endured a horrific 40-storey plunge as the result of a malfunctioning elevator in the Empire State building in New York city, that fact is perfectly clear.
You travel on elevators and escalators almost every day without a thought about safety.
You use gasoline to run your car and propane to cook food on the barbecue hardly thinking about it.
When you are in the mood for some fun, you ride on ski lifts, water slides and roller coasters.
Office buildings and the shopping malls are kept cool on hot summer days because of powerful air-conditioning plants.
Buildings are kept warm and cozy when it’s cold outside, thanks to giant boiler heating systems.
At the end of the day, with your natural gas furnace humming quietly downstairs, you tuck your kids in bed with their favourite teddy bears pressed close under thick down-filled duvets.
Living in Ontario, for that matter anywhere in Canada, you probably use or purchase products like these all the time.
You may even be employed in an industry that produces or services one of them.
But you may not know that one organization – the Technical Standards and Safety Authority – is responsible for regulating public safety associated with all of these products and thousands like them.
TSSA is an innovative public safety organization, which was created to deliver public safety services in a more effective and efficient way.
TSSA came into being in 1997. The Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations delegated responsibilities to TSSA for the delivery of services under seven Ontario public safety laws.
These laws include the Amusement Devices Act, the Boilers & Pressure Vessels Act, the Elevating Devices Act, the Energy Act, the Gasoline Handling Act, the Operating Engineers Act and the Upholstered & Stuffed Articles Act.
TSSA is a non-government, not-for-profit organization and one of the few public-private safety partnerships in North America.
TSSA is on a mission to make people’s lives better by enhancing public safety.
Ontario’s Public Safety Regulatory Environment
Following its inception, TSSA has spearheaded a legislative review process, which has involved extensive consultations with stakeholders.
The collective goal is to harmonize the core provisions of the seven separate Acts into one streamlined statute: Ontario’s Technical Standards and Safety Act. The proposed bill is currently before the Ontario legislature.
A concurrent review of the sector-specific regulations has been initiated.
The result will be a more flexible and responsive legislative environment for public safety in Ontario – one that is more adaptable to change, whether it is social, technological or economic.
Clearly, the importance of public safety transcends jurisdictional boundaries.
TSSA is actively working to harmonize standards and to promote consistency in enforcement practices across Canada.
Over the longer term, consolidation of public safety services in Canada will bring about significant benefits for all stakeholders: enhanced safety, lower compliance costs and greater trade and labour mobility among the provinces and territories.
Please visit the TSSA website at www.tssa.org. If you have any comments or questions regarding the above article; or if you have suggestions for future articles, please contact Ann-Marie Barker at firstname.lastname@example.org. SSGM
The inside story on the little known Technical Safety Standards Authority. What it is, where it came from and how it works.
About the writer
Ann-Marie Barker works as a fuels safety engineer for the Fuels Safety Division of TSSA. Her primary responsibilities include administering the Gasoline Handling and Ontario Propane Codes. She also co-ordinates the activities of the Carbon Monoxide Safety Association. Ms. Barker has a B.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.