Under the current system, NSC safety certificate applicants must provide the ministry with detailed information that the ministry confirms or assesses through a variety of authorized background checks.
The information includes:
Legal name, such as legal organization, incorporation number, or individual’s legal name;
Director/officer(s), which includes the name(s), driver licence number, birthdate(s), and all other associated carriers for whom the person may also act as director/officer;
Contact information, which includes business mailing and records address, e-mail address and phone number;
Drivers, which includes a list of drivers, driver licence numbers, birthdates, and driver abstracts for out-of-province drivers;
Service types, including service locations;
Vehicle inventory, which includes the number of and types of vehicles, licensed gross vehicle weight, vehicle registration, and VIN number;
Safety profiles, which requires the applicant to answer questions in regards to hiring policy, driver policy, Hours of Service policy, vehicle maintenance policy, and dangerous goods policy, and to identify the person responsible for each area;
Overall responsibility, which includes the name of the person that has overall responsibility for the carrier’s operation and NSC obligations; and
Completed declarations, which includes a declaration that the applicant, including the director/officer, has never had an unsatisfactory safety certificate, that the information provided in the application is true and accurate, and that the applicant is knowledgeable of NSC requirements.
Applicants may be tested on their knowledge of NSC requirements and/or to provide safety plans. Knowledge tests are administered if there are indications that the applicant is not knowledgeable of NSC obligations or if there is a suspicion that the applicant is associated with an unsafe carrier. Safety plans are required for applicants that have more than 5 vehicles, large buses, or if there is an indication that the applicant lacks knowledge of the requirements.
The ministry may approve an application with conditions, such as a satisfactory audit within a specific time period or limiting the number of vehicles permitted to operate under the safety certificate.
BCTA expressed concern that: the NSC application process does not adequately assess a carrier's understanding of its safety obligations; and it is too easy to switch from one NSC certificate to another to avoid sanctions.
Assessment of NSC Applications
Prior to the convening of the Task Force, the NSC application process did not always include a detailed assessment of an applicant’s knowledge of NSC requirements or of the processes the applicant had in place to manage its drivers and vehicles.
The application process is the appropriate point to establish the importance and relevance of the NSC system. Reasonable but firm expectations imposed on new NSC entrants at the application stage should relieve the burden on downstream monitoring, enforcement, and disciplinary stages.
Develop a robust application standard and evaluation process to review applicants for an NSC certificate.
Develop a rigorous examination to be administered at the time of application for an NSC certificate.
Audit companies granted a new NSC certificate, as appropriate, to verify the validity of the information included in their application, including the safety plan.
CVSE Action Plan:
As of April 2012, changes were made and the application process is now one of the most comprehensive in Canada. Changes include:
Implementation of knowledge tests for industry-specific operations (e.g., logging trucks, oil and gas service vehicles).
Increased the number of applicants required to take the knowledge test by 50% by winter 2013.
Increased the conditions in place on a certificate, such as number and size of vehicles of a carrier’s fleet.
Increase the number of verification audits by 25% by fall 2014 to determine if information provided in the application is accurate.
Require at least 50% of the applications including vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) over 11,794 kg to write a knowledge test by winter 2013.
Review the effectiveness of these knowledge tests on carrier safety by winter 2014.
Issue conditional safety certificates to applicants that list only vehicles with a GVW less than 11,794 kg.
Switching of NSC Certificates
NSC certificates currently do not have an expiry date and can remain inactive for years, potentially allowing carriers that are under investigation to move their operation to a dormant and unblemished NSC safety certificate.
Investigate the extent to which carriers are currently evading the consequences of poor safety management through operating without an NSC certificate, switching NSC certificates, and/or shifting the full burden of compliance on to individual owner-operators in their fleets by requiring them to acquire and use their own NSC certificate.
Require all NSC certificate holders to periodically review and update as required all information provided in their NSC application.
CVSE Action Plan:
Cancel 48,000 inactive safety certificates.
Monitor safety certificates and cancel those that have had no vehicles insured under the NSC number for more than 12 months.
Add a renewal clause to safety certificates by winter 2014.
(National Safety Code Review: Improving Commercial Vehicle Safety in BC, pp. 9 to 11.)