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To promote and enforce public safety.
To be a valued advocate and recognized authority in public safety.
Putting Public Safety First
Since 1997, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) has delivered public safety services on behalf of the government of Ontario in four key sectors:
• boilers and pressure vessels, and operating engineers;
• elevating devices, amusement devices and ski lifts;
• fuels; and,
• upholstered and stuffed articles.
TSSA is a not-for-profit, self-funded organization dedicated to enhancing public safety. With headquarters in Toronto, TSSA employs approximately 380 staff, 70 percent of whom work in operations. Governed by a 13-member board of directors, TSSA is accountable to the Ontario government, the residents of Ontario and its other stakeholders.
TSSA funds its operations by charging its industry customers a fee for the services it provides.
Safety Value Chain and Value Proposition
While TSSA is required to enforce the Technical Standards and Safety Act and regulations, the organization has embraced a much broader role than compliance. Through both promotion and enforcement actions, TSSA seeks to continuously improve safety. TSSA cannot respond to all public safety risks through compliance actions. Many incidents are caused by operator or user behaviour and can at best only be influenced by TSSA. As a result, TSSA seeks to act as both a regulator and an advocate – firmly committed to improving safety.
In identifying its safety value chain activities, TSSA has included activities that enable both elements of its purpose: promote and enforce. In addition, certain activities within the safety value chain outlined below are by definition more preventative in nature. TSSA’s safety value chain activities are:
- Influence codes and regulations: support government in developing regulations, and participate in code development and standard setting.
- Inform, educate and modify behaviour: inform and educate end-users and industry participants regarding better safety practices and issues, new codes, regulations and requirements, and seek to influence user behaviour.
- License, register and certify (examine): influence training institutions to properly train trades people, and effectively examine and certify trades people, register plants and equipment, and license devices, sites and contractors.
- Review designs: review the design of new technology, new installations, alterations and modifications to existing equipment and plants for compliance to codes and regulations.
- Inspect and monitor: inspect/audit trades people, contractors, plants, equipment and sites for compliance with codes and regulations, and monitor developing safety related trends or issues.
- Enforce: take appropriate regulatory actions to resolve non-compliance situations or actions before or after safety incidents.
- Investigate: investigate safety incidents or near-misses.
TSSA’s value proposition is to put the greatest emphasis on preventative activities within the safety value chain.
TSSA recognizes that the evolutionary path toward this goal will vary for each sector it regulates. In delivering on its value proposition, TSSA is committed to ensuring compliance through the application of best practices. Where additional opportunities to enhance safety are identified, TSSA will design and implement preventative actions, such as public safety awareness campaigns. In doing so, TSSA recognizes the role of its regulatory customers and other stakeholders to have a shared responsibility for safety and encourages them to fully accept this responsibility.
Risk Informed Decision Making (RIDM)
The most tangible way to understand safety is in terms of risk. Even the International Standard Organization defines safety as a ‘freedom from risk’. So, how do we define risk?
It is best described as:
- the probability or frequency that a regulated technology, product, device or infrastructure could lead to harm of the public (noted as the Cause); and
- combined with the severity of that harm (noted as the Effect).
Risk is about predicting the future and evidence – obtaining the right information – increases the certainty of prediction.
It essentially works like this: TSSA gathers data related to incidents and non-compliance, examines trends or patterns, then makes risk-informed decisions to manage future public safety matters. In such a quantifiable way, TSSA seeks to prevent incidents through an understanding of their occurrence and effectively controlling that risk.
Over the past number of years, TSSA has been evolving its approach to measuring the impacts of risk-informed decision-making through the adoption of a unique safety metric, the disability-adjusted life-years (DALY). Developed by the World Health Organization, DALYs provide a scientifically rational way of combining injuries of different severities into a single unit of measure. In simple terms, a DALY of 1.0 is the loss of one year of healthy life of a single person due to an injury.
To that simplified end, TSSA has incorporated a more user intuitive description of DALY, known hereafter as ‘Healthy Years of Life Lost’. While its meaning does not vary from the internationally-recognized metric that TSSA has adapted and referenced in past performance reports, it provides a clearer path to its intended meaning.
As such, TSSA reports Health Years of Life Lost in three categories – based on our ability to influence safety:
How the Healthy Years of Life Lost is Calculated
- non-compliance with regulatory requirements, which indicates the extent of impacts on health that result from someone who has responsibilities under the Act or regulations not complying with legal requirements;
- potential inadequacy of the regulatory structure, which indicates the extent of impacts on health that result from a potential weakness in the regulations; and
- factors external to the regulatory structure, which indicates the extent of impacts on health that result from situations where the public using the technologies we regulate inadvertently put themselves at risk through their own behaviours.
Healthy Years of Life Lost provides a numerical representation of all injuries resulting over the reporting period, with consideration to three characteristics of each injury: severity, duration and frequency. For a specific injury, the Healthy Years of Life Lost metric reflects the impact on the victim’s quality of life, how long the effects last and whether the injury is permanent. This metric is calculated from information TSSA gathers through its activities and from other reliable sources. The burden of injury may be two-fold:
- actual, based on observed health impacts; and/or
- predicted, based on near-miss occurrences that did not result in an injury.
As part of TSSA’s proactive approach to safety, the organization is introducing predicted Healthy Years of Life Lost in 2012, which will represent the expected outcomes in a given year based on a combination of actual historical incidents, injuries, and near misses, and the specific actions planned to reduce that risk.
Within a larger context, risk-informed decision-making helps TSSA make objective decisions on safety priorities in policy making (advising the Ministry) and policy administration (enforcing the regulations). It additionally provides consistent interpretation of regulatory policies and expectations, ensuring transparency in decision-making, and passing the ‘reasonableness’ test. Through a scientific, evidence-based understanding of cause and effect and expert judgement, allowing us to make objective cause and effect assessments, even in the absence of available evidence, we are getting closer and closer to becoming risk-informed in a predictive, proactive manner.
While never completely eliminated, risk can be systematically, scientifically approached to lessen, mitigate and/or ultimately prevent incidents from occurring. That’s TSSA’s innovative way to applying risk management principles and risk-informed decision-making – all to the betterment of Ontarians and public safety.
For more information and detailed analysis on the state of safety compliance, please see TSSA’s Annual Safety Performance Reports by clicking on the link below:
For more information on DALY and the World Health Organization, please visit the link below:
Our job is to keep Ontarians safe, every day in every way. That’s the passion of TSSA, an innovative, not-for-profit organization dedicated to public safety.
TSSA Organizational Chart