Keeping up with industry: Defining Certification and Accreditation for OHS Professionals

Some skills that an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professionals need are indisputable – technical knowledge, a knack for working with diverse teams, and a strong commitment to safety. Together with the Sector Labour Market Partnership program and members like you, the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC is working to define the skills and knowledge that an effective OHS professional must have.

The Alliance has been the lead organization for a project to define the core competencies and capabilities that occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals require to meet the needs of the manufacturing industry in BC. The resulting framework will inform the development of effective training and relevant career-path information for career seekers and employers.

Daneen Skilling, Chair of the Sector Labour Market Partnership Project Steering Committee says,

“The safety professional of the future must be able to manage both the technical day-to-day safety issues and also lead industry and corporate cultural attitudes to health and safety. ”

The first three phases of the multi-year project, Sector Engagement, the gathering of Labour Market Information, and Strategy Development have been completed. Funding was provided through the Sector Labour Market Partnership program and administered by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

The Alliance, along with the Steering Committee, is looking forward to the implementation phase, pending approval from the Ministry.

“During the next phase,” says Daneen, “we will establish three advisory bodies to develop a competency and capability framework; develop the accreditation process which includes education and training standards; and, design the certification process. We will also develop a communication strategy to make sure the OHS profession’s certification program for manufacturing is broadly known.”

The Project Team identified two parallel diversities. The first is the evolving nature of manufacturing, with constant introduction of new products and technology. The second is a workforce which is going through both a generational and cultural change. These changes impact how OHS professionals need to be taught. As the Sector Labour Market Partnership project develops, a broad variety of stakeholders including industry partners, regulators, educators and OHS professionals will be consulted. This will ensure that core competencies and the training is relevant in an ever-evolving industry.

“We need to be as innovative in how we train our OHS professionals as we are in our industries. They must have good generalist training and then add on a defined set of core competencies and capabilities to create a manufacturing certification. Additionally, they must learn how to be great communicators and change leaders to both a corporate management team and the shop floor. Increased analytical skills will help them recognize and minimize new risks or hazards that are part of technological upgrades. All this must be done within the framework of the business need for profitability and production.”

To learn more about the Sector Labour Market Partnership project, visit safetyalliancebc.ca/sectorlmp