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Safety engineers opening their lab

They investigate causes of accidents and incidents to improve safety for all transportation.

They investigate causes of accidents and incidents to improve safety for all transportation.

For fans of the television series, Derek Gagné compares the work of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada to CSI, “but in a stretched-out time frame from what you see on TV,” said the electrical and mechanical engineer with TSB.

“We don’t do things in an hour. It does take a lot longer, but it is a similar premise.

Investigations can take from several days to two years.”

For 20 years, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has been investigating marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. To mark the occasion, the TSB is opening the doors to its engineering lab to the public for the first time June 5.

The engineering facility supports all regional investigations offices across Canada, said Ted Givins, manager of the recorders section.

By piecing together the sequence of events leading to an accident, staff can find whether mechanical, electrical, material, structural or other deficiencies contributed to accidents.

While a high bay area allows investigators to investigate wreckage — including aircraft involved in wrecks, a gasoline pipeline that leaked and a cracked rail that caused a derailment — indoors, the multimedia section handles all the documentation for accident sites and is in charge of all the photography and video, as well as recovering images for analysis, while another section can reconstruct a scene using computers.

“We don’t necessarily know exactly what we’re looking for,” said Gagne. “But if we work through it systematically, in the end, we can normally uncover a root cause or uncover what did happen.”