A glimpse into safety expert Tracey Thibeau’s day-to-day
It’s a rarity for Tracey Thibeau, Senior Safety Advisor for Danatec to be in the Calgary head office. As one of the subject matter experts for the company, he finds himself going far and wide to deliver the classroom sessions from Iqaluit up north, to New Brunswick out east and back home to Calgary. So, sitting down for a short interview with Tracey was a serendipitous event and we were quickly hitting the ground running after some initial banter.
“I do all the training for TDG, all three modes, starting with air transportation (IATA), then water (IMDG) and ground transportation of dangerous goods. I also teach WHMIS, not only classroom courses, but I also do train the trainer courses for all these products. I do train the trainer for TDG ground and WHMIS.”
Tracey’s cell phone rings and he knows it’s another client that has a specific safety question. This isn’t out of the ordinary for the veteran safety advisor. In a regular work week, he is fielding questions from customers regarding TDG, IATA, IMDG and WHMIS. If he isn’t on the phone, he’s helping to develop new courses like the “Transportation of Lithium Battery.”
Tracey got his start with Air Canada. “I joined their health and safety committee so that I could be part of their safety culture with Air Canada. I did different audits at airports throughout Canada and that was my first exposure to safety and I was quite impressed with it,” recalls Tracey.
After retiring from Air Canada, Tracey formed his own company in Nova Scotia: Corridor Safety Training Consultants where he was first introduced to Danatec’s products such as TDG and WHMIS. “I was very impressed with it, and later on I became the Eastern Canada rep for Danatec selling their products in Eastern Canada.
With the knowledge that Tracey has with safety, he even recalls the incident that created TDG and WHMIS.
“It was a train accident. It happened in 1979 in Mississauga. There was a train crash right in the city of Mississauga, and there were 225,000 people evacuated. No one was killed. There was only one injury that they were aware of and that was an ankle injury from the mayor of Mississauga. There was toxic gas, flammable gas and liquid flammable materials and they exploded. All the toxic gas was dispersed into the atmosphere before anyone could get to it. It was quite catastrophic in that area. Because all of the cars were linked together, Transport Canada came together and said we need to do something about this. So, in 1985, the Dangerous Goods Act was created and three years later WHMIS came out.”
Since that incident, safety has come a long way. Now safety as an awareness culture is increasingly embraced by government and private industry. The change in safety becoming top of mind now stems from a safety culture created by the leaders in companies that filters down to the rest of their staff.
“That’s a new trend and it’s very exciting to see that as opposed to safety being secondary or even third in line to their bottom line,” says Tracey.
Looking to the future, Tracey believes that with a concentrated effort by government agencies that regulate industries and industries stepping up their safety records, employees can only stand to benefit from a safer work environment.
“Recently, there has been an announcement by the Alberta government to rehaul some of the legislation regarding worker safety, so we’re moving forward that way and it’s a move in the right direction. What we need is the entire country of Canada to move in that direction and we only have to look at the statistics even with TDG to see the amount of deaths and the amount of injuries that are in the thousands – those are just the reported injuries – so we know that there are even more left unreported.”
As one of Danatec’s subject matter experts, Tracey keeps materials and training updated and refreshed to capture any regulatory changes.
“I actually subscribe to Occupational Health and Safety groups like Health Canada and Transport Canada, and I am a working member with IATA. I subscribe to them, so anything that is coming from all these different agencies, I get an update and I keep our company apprised of anything that is coming down the line, like the possibility of changes that we may have to make to our products or regulations.”
Tracey recommends for anyone who is interested in keeping on top of amendments or changes to regulations to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and our website.