Trucking HR Canada, legal issues and alcohol and drug policies addressed during STA AGM

SASKATOON, Sask. – The Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) held its annual AGM and Awards Gala Oct. 22, offering a trio of speakers to address the state of the industry both in provincially and nationally.

Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada, highlighted a handful of initiatives her organization has endeavored to achieve, all with a focus on three key areas – skills, knowledge sharing and recruitment and retention.

With relation to skills, Splinter spoke about the National Occupational Standard for drivers, which is a document that defines the knowledge, skills and abilities required for certain occupations.

“For us, a big accomplishment was the development of a National Occupational Standard (NOS) for truck drivers,” said Splinter. “It was a year-long process; we had engagement and support of each provincial association, which included Saskatchewan. We also had a national working group that had representation from Saskatchewan.”

Splinter said sessions were held across the country to best determine ‘what a driver actually does’ on a national scale, which can help better inform where the industry is going with regards to its training programs.

“Identifying that required knowledge, skills and abilities required of the driver is an important thing for us to do,” Splinter said. “(The NOS) really is the best document that we have that dispels the myth that just anyone can be a truck driver.”

Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada.
Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada.

Splinter said Trucking HR’s NOS is was what served as the foundation for mandatory entry level training in Ontario.
A lack of skills recognition for truck drivers is another Trucking HR effort Splinter underscored.

With the government classifying around 40,000 occupations from skill level A to D – A being most skilled and D lowest – truck driving currently falls into the C level.

“It’s an issue within the industry, because this classification limits our access to training and retraining funds,” said Splinter. “Experienced drivers from other countries cannot be recruited through the traditional immigration channels.”

One of the first steps in moving truck driving up the skilled trade ladder starts with how job ads are posted.
Splinter said career ads help those who establish whether a profession is skilled or unskilled determine what the industry is demanding from the potential employee.

Splinter pointed out that she could go online right now and find hundreds of job ads for truck drivers that state, ‘no education required’ and ‘no experience necessary,’ both of which do not help the effort to make the profession a skilled trade.

Getting more young people behind the wheel is another point of interest for Trucking HR Canada.

Splinter said they have a new national committee that is looking at the lack of Millennials in the trucking industry, despite the age group making up the largest portion of today’s workforce.

She also mentioned the ‘National Take Your Kids to Work Day’ program, where every child in Grade 9 is encouraged to go to work with a parent, as an initiative Trucking HR supports in the industry.

Splinter also announced that Trucking HR would hold a Western Women With Drive event in Calgary May 10, 2017 in partnership with the Alberta Motor Transport Association.

The effort, like the Women With Drive event in Toronto, is to inspire more women to get into the trucking industry, whether it be as a driver or otherwise.

The Top Fleet Employer program is one of the largest Trucking HR initiatives, which started three years ago to recognize fleets that have good practices in place.

Splinter said the program is one that promotes the industry as an employer of choice.

Legal matters

Keith Kilback, a lawyer with Kanuka Thuringer, offered the Top 10 ways the fine print matters to trucking companies to provide some legal perspectives to running a successful business.

“Legal perspectives are really about understanding risks,” said Kilback.

The Top 10 areas Kilback highlighted included:

1) The contract of carriage: In today’s modern trucking industry, this contract is not always easy to establish, as some carriers continue to use out-of-date documents that do not reflect current laws.

2) The uniform conditions of carriage: Intended to provide a predictable set of terms for all contracts across Canada, but are not uniform, as provincial conditions apply to interprovincial transport.

3) Limitations of liability: Both the originating and delivering carrier is liable to the shipper for any loss or damage to goods, but both can also claim losses from the carrier in possession of the merchandise at the time of the damage or loss.

4) Liability for interline carriers: The origin and delivering carrier is liable while in the chain of delivery.

5) Cargo carried at consignor’s risk: Does not relieve the carrier from liability that may result from negligence act of carrier.

6) Bill of lading requirements.

7) Record keeping: Carriers must maintain convictions, driver, accident, training, vehicle maintenance and insurance records for five years. Failure is an offence under the Traffic Safety Act.

8) Acting as a freight intermediary: You are a freight forwarder; are you also a load broker who arranges an introduction and carrier recommendation? If so, you could be found liable if recommended carrier does not perform proper job function.

9) Relationships with drivers: It’s different how an employer deals with an employee, independent contractor and dependent contractor. “How the relationship is written up really matters,” said Kilback.

10) Premises leases: Often overlooked lease terms include additional costs, termination rights, repair obligations and right to assign the lease.

Want to get high?

Issues surrounding the possible legalization of marijuana in Canada continue to create waves within the transportation industry.

But it’s not just about marijuana; it’s about all substances that can hinder an employee’s job performance.
Barbara Butler, an expert on alcohol and drug policies in the workplace, said alcohol is still the number one drug used in Canada.

She pointed out that substances like cocaine, methamphetamines and ecstasy are either cheap, difficult to detect or highly addictive, and can cause issues for employers when it comes to establishing a workplace policy.

Butler said Canada was a ‘world leader’ when it comes to exporting and transit of drugs into the US, and with higher potency marijuana and new synthetic drugs being introduced every year, employers must bring a balance between workplace safety and human rights, and that human rights cannot trump the safety of others.

“The bottom line is having that balance,” she said. “Human rights is important, but it does not override safety.”

Butler said that in Saskatchewan, medical professionals who authorize someone to use medical marijuana must also be treating the patient, but that most people are getting approvals for use from B.C. She added that because marijuana is not a cure for anything, but simply used to soothe a patient’s symptoms, there is always an alternative option for treatment.

Employees must be able to ask their doctor and determine whether they can perform their job functions while using medical marijuana, such as drive a truck, and if not, ask if there is another option to treat their condition.

Alcohol and drug policy plans should include consistent procedures on how to manage the choice of drug an employee is using and include referrals from an independent medical evaluation. It should be intended for both for current employees and future applicants, as well as drivers and other company employees.

STA executive director Susan Ewart said the Canadian Trucking Alliance has sent a letter regarding concerns over the legalization of marijuana and its impact on the safe operations of vehicles, and until a clear understanding of what constitutes impairment is determined, the trucking industry should employ a zero-tolerance policy for its use.

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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  • Here’s a list of studies and research concerning marijuana and driving, many were funded by various national governments:

    “Marijuana has a measurable yet relatively mild effect on psychomotor skills, yet it does not appear to play a significant role in vehicle crashes, particularly when compared to alcohol. Below is a summary of some of the existing data.”

    “There was no indication that cannabis by itself was a cause of fatal crashes.”

    REFERENCE: Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Report No. DOT HS 808 065, K. Terhune, 1992.

    “Drivers under the influence of marijuana retain insight in their performance and will compensate when they can, for example, by slowing down or increasing effort. As a consequence, THC’s adverse effects on driving performance appear relatively small.”

    REFERENCE: U.S. Department of Transportation study, 1993

    “Evidence from the present and previous studies strongly suggests that alcohol encourages risky driving whereas THC encourages greater caution”

    REFERENCE: University of Adelaide study, 1995 

    “There is no evidence that consumption of cannabis alone increases the risk of culpability for traffic crash fatalities or injuries for which hospitalization occurs, and may reduce those risks.. The more cautious behavior of subjects who have received marijuana decreases the impact of the drug on performance, whereas the opposite holds true for alcohol.”

    REFERENCE: Marijuana: On-Road and Driving-Simulator Studies; Epidemiologic Reviews 21: 222-232, A. Smiley, 1999.

    “Both simulation and road trials generally find that driving behaviour shortly after consumption of larger doses of cannabis results in (i) a more cautious driving style; (ii) increased variability in lane position (and headway); and (iii) longer decision times. Whereas these results indicate a ‘change’ from normal conditions, they do not necessarily reflect ‘impairment’ in terms of performance effectiveness since few studies report increased accident risk.”

    REFERENCE: UK Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (Road Safety Division), 2000.

    “At the present time, the evidence to suggest an involvement of cannabis in road crashes is scientifically unproven”.

    REFERENCE: G. Chesher and M. Longo, 2002.

    “Cannabis alone, particularly in low doses, has little effect on the skills involved in automobile driving. Cannabis leads to a more cautious style of driving. However it has a negative impact on decision time and trajectory. This in itself does not mean that drivers under the influence of cannabis represent a traffic safety risk”

    REFERENCE: Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, 2002.

    “The evidence to suggest an involvement of cannabis in road crashes is scientifically unproven.”

    REFERENCE: Franjo Grotenhermen, MD and Ethan Russo, MD (Haworth Press 2002).

    “There was a clear relationship between alcohol and culpability. In contrast, there was no significant increase in culpability for cannabinoids alone.”

    REFERENCE: Accident Analysis and Prevention 32(5): 613-622. Longo, MC; Hunter, CE; Lokan, RJ; White, JM; and White, MA. (2000)

    “Although cognitive studies suggest that cannabis use may lead to unsafe driving, experimental studies have suggested that it can have the opposite effect.”

    “No differences were found during the baseline driving segment (and the) collision avoidance scenarios,”

    REFERENCE: Research published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 2010
“20 years of study has concluded that marijuana smokers may actually have fewer accidents than other drivers.”

    “The study found that those with a blood alcohol level of 0.12% were over 30 times more likely to get into a serious accident than someone who’s consumed any amount of cannabis. .. The least risky drug seemed to be cannabis and benzodiazepines and Z-drugs.”

    REFERENCE: Accident Analysis & Prevention; Volume 59, October 2013, Pages 346–356

    Acute cannabis consumption and motor vehicle collision risk:

    “There is no evidence that consumption of cannabis alone increases the risk of culpability for traffic crash fatalities or injuries for which hospitalization occurs, and may reduce those risks.”

    REFERENCE: British Medical Journal, 1999; M. Bates and T. James Blakely

  • NO TO DRUG……It is bad enough to cope with the stress involve in driving with a new generation that have no clue on how to behave on our highways and cannabis would be allowed who IS ON POT THESE DAYS MEMBER OF PARLEMENT ANDOTHER?????