About the Project

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, sponsored by the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and in cooperation with other industry partners, is the lead organization for the Manufacturing Sector Labour Market Partnership (Sector LMP) to address labour market issues for the OHS profession within our province’s manufacturing sector.

The current phase of the project led by MSABC is looking in to strategies for developing standards for the OHS profession and we are inviting the manufacturing industry to provide input.  We need your feedback to help ensure that these proposed strategies meet the needs of our industry. We would like to hear from employers as well as OHS professionals in order to gain a full perspective and are hoping that you can attend.

Any changes that may result need to be industry driven. This is an opportunity for you to be heard and to make a difference!

Phase 3 Strategy Development

Identification of strategic issues is at the heart of strategic planning and an important step before implementation can be considered.  In this current phase, we will be looking at multiple strategic avenues and will be reaching out for further input and validation from the manufacturing and food processing sector.

1. OHS Professional Qualifications and Core Competencies

There is no consensus on the definition of an OHS professional, the required body of skills and knowledge, or the professional designations or credentials needed for an employee or candidate to be considered or certified as an OHS professional. This lack of a consistent standard handicaps the consistency and quality of OHS within Manufacturing, as well as recruitment, career planning and professional development.

2. Training Methodology and Education for OHS Professionals

OHS training and education must keep pace with changing workforce demographics, process automation and best practices in how people learn and change behavior. The design of an OHS program for the Manufacturing sector must review both traditional and alternate training delivery mechanisms while ensuring the inclusion of the necessary qualifications and core competencies for an OHS professional. The Phase 2 Research Report identified that consistent competency based training/education is the most important resource that companies will need to meet OHS challenges in the next 5 years.

Of the companies surveyed, only 20% provided employees with financial support for courses leading to higher levels of certification. Many workers in OHS positions have no formal OHS credentials and are more likely to be trained in-house than recruited externally with professional qualifications in hand. In fact, the most common path into the OHS profession in BC Manufacturing is through a mid-career move inside an organization. Firms are more likely to train an existing employee for an OHS role than to recruit externally. Prevalence of mid-career transitions into OHS roles for manufacturing workers signals a continued and possibly growing need for certification programs as a convenient route to upgrading OHS knowledge and skills.

The Phase 2 Research Report identified a wide range of existing diploma and certificate programs with variable formats, timeframes for learning, and options for in-class or online courses. This issue is closely tied to the need for an OHS competency framework, which in turn impacts the ability of education institutions to develop OHS training programs targeted to Manufacturing. This has created a lack of information and clarity about the educational pathway to become an OHS professional.

3. Standardization and Oversight of the OHS Professional in Manufacturing

The OHS Profession in Manufacturing currently does not require professionals to have a consistent set of qualifications, certification or competencies. The Phase 2 Research Report determined that an ‘OHS professional’ is difficult to define as there is no consensus on the body of skills, knowledge, professional designation or credentials required to be hired as and/or considered an OHS professional. Adding to this is the lack of any centralized database with the number of OHS practitioners and their OHS credentials and/or post-secondary credentials. This is a significant labour market information gap. “There are too many safety designations and no standards” stated one of the participants in the focus groups within MSA LMP Phase 2 research. The movement towards increased qualifications required in the CRSP designation in 2018 indicates a trend towards higher standards. The MSA LMP Phase 2 Research Report identified a movement toward standardization and a higher level of qualification for OHS professionals. However, that research also showed that over half of OHS workers in BC do not have an OHS certification, few companies require a specific OHS credential, and no specific OHS professional qualification is considered essential for an OHS role in Manufacturing.

4. Communication and Outreach

Within the Manufacturing sector, there appears to be a wide variation in awareness and understanding of the importance of OHS, the resources available for training and education and the career path of an OHS professional. The Phase 2 Research Report identified that only 16.7% of respondents considered OHS knowledge skills and abilities as the most important qualification in recruiting for an OHS position. Very few respondents (only 3.8%) mentioned a specific OHS credential as the most important job requirement. For a Manufacturing OHS competency and certification strategy to be successful it needs the buy in of the industry and a full understanding of the value and importance of high quality OHS to business and to professionals currently working in the field.

There are four trends that could affect the labour market for OHS profession within the Manufacturing sector over the next 4-10 years: Changing economic climate; higher standards for OHS certification; increased supply chain requirements for OHS management systems; new and more rigorous OHS regulations. Add to this company growth and new work processes and it combines to create greater OHS risk. It is essential to educate employers on the importance of recruiting an OHS professional.

Focus Groups

We held four regional focus group sessions in Feb/March 2018.  In those sessions participants were engaged in a broad ranging discussion to assess the importance and relevance of each key issue to their business and their overall OHS priorities.


Phase 1 Report

Industry partners consulted in Phase 1 Labour Market Study, which completed in July of 2016,  identified a number issues, including the increased competition for OHS professionals, changing workforce demographics, rising OHS standards, limitations on OHS education and training, and OHS competencies. These issues became the focus of the Phase 2 OHS Labour Market Information Research.

Phase 2 Report

Phase 2, which was completed May 2017, analyzed the status of OHS professionals within the manufacturing sector. Work included a supply and demand forecast for OHS professionals as well as a review and analysis of education and training programs and skill requirements. The results of Phase 2 are being used in Phase 3 Strategy Development to identify and prioritize actions to address the strategic issues substantiated through the labour market research.

Project Partners