The role of certification in public protection

OHS professionals play a key role ensuring safety at work and at home

The role of certification in public protection

This article was sponsored by the BCRSP.

As the pandemic has demonstrated, workplace safety and public safety are intrinsically connected. Safety professionals play a key role in keeping people safe, whether that be at work or at home.

Employees on the job are also the public on the street, says Sandy Stephens, Public Member, Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP) Governing Board.

As such, health and safety professionals need to be trusted and demonstrate their abilities – through proper certification. The guiding principle and overarching vision of the BCRSP is to achieve safe and healthy workplaces through certification.

As a public member, Stephens brings an important external perspective to the board and a fresh set of eyes to the topic. Her role is to represent the interests of the public – “and you can bring a view as an outsider that is not familiar with the standards and the norms and the views of the profession so you can challenge them and bring a new, unique perspective.” Stephens says that she always has felt “valued” and “encouraged” by the Board.

To meet their objectives, the Governing Board consistently considers how its policies and procedures support the protection of the public interest. For example, they protect the public by setting a high standard for the safety profession, both in eligibility requirements and examination standards.

The BCRSP leverages the insights and subject matter expertise of its volunteers throughout the certification process, and on that note also advocates for greater protection of public interest through government oversight and title protection for the profession.

Alongside these standards, there is continuing education as well as an ethics component which “ensures that the people that are safety professionals are meeting a standard so that they can ensure that people are safe,” says Stephens. “I think having a set standard that people have to meet, and ongoing requirements, are going to help ensure that the public is looked after and is protected.”

The BCRSP also supports global initiatives such as the International Network of Safety and Health Professional Organisations (INSHPO) and the development and use of harmonized global frameworks like the INSHPO OHS Capability Framework. It also ensures transparency and accountability to the public by, for example, disclosing financial statements and policies related to the certification processes.

BCRSP certification also enhances workplace safety (and by extension, public safety) because its certified safety technicians and safety professionals bring the skills, knowledge and abilities of someone who has demonstrated through an independent assessment process to their workplace.

Certification assures the employer, fellow workers, and the public (customers and community), that the safety technician or professional is skilled and knowledgeable, keeps up to date through a continuous professional development process, abides to a code of ethics, and meets the established standard.