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Professional Designations and Certifications in Safety

Date: 14th August 2017

When you’re considering hiring a safety professional, or perhaps considering a career in Safety, there are aspects of professional safety that can be complex, and perhaps overwhelming. Hygiene has a strong scientific aspect due to the nature of the monitoring, measuring, and interaction between gases, fumes, particulate and human physiology. Risk can be a simple concept, or a theoretical discussion on probability.  While the regulatory requirements alone can make you wonder if a lawyer may be required.

So how do you know if the safety requirements you have as a business are being adequately identified and addressed?  How do you demonstrate as a safety professional that you have a sound understanding of safety?  One answer is professional designations and certifications.  There are many designations and certifications to consider, and if some H&S topics are confusing enough, the last thing you need is to be confused by acronyms, certification versus designation, and Canadian vs. American terminology.

The following link will take you to a great document developed by the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering that provides some detailed information on this topic.

CSSE Guide to Hiring a Health and Safety Practitioner – A Guide for Employers and OHS Practitioners

Certifications vs. Designations

Whether your looking to hire a H&S professional, or develop a H&S career, here are some of the options available, with a brief description of their areas of specialty, and links to find out more.


A certification is dependent on education, work experience, ongoing professional development requirements, and some form of assessment to determine competency, which will result in certification from an approved organization.  There is also usually a requirement to meet a professional code of conduct as well.  Some  key certifications are outlined below:

CCPE – Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist

A certification from the Canadian College for the Certification of Professional Ergonomists, geared towards individuals primarily engaged in ergonomics / human factors as their occupation.  The minimum requirements are a bachelor’s degree specializing in ergonomic applications as well as approximately five years professional experience in the field. This is a voluntary professional certification program, as using the title Ergonomist is not restricted by law in Canada and can be used by anyone.  The CCPE is the only ergonomics / human factors certification in Canada, which requires applicants to meet a consistent set of standards in education and professional competencies across the full scope of ergonomics and human factors.

CHSC – Certified Health and Safety Consultant

A certification from the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering, geared towards individuals focused on being a professional occupational health and safety consultant. To obtain the CHSC certification you must complete six courses on health and safety, and have five years of experience in the field.  CHSC’s may have a generally broad, or specific set of skills and experience.

CSRP – Canadian Registered Safety Professional

A certification from the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals, that requires in-depth knowledge of health and safety principles and practices, a minimum of five years experience, successful completion of standard examination, and ongoing continuing education.  The CRSP has been widely recognized as the national standard of certification for OHS professionals in Canada. A CRSP professional uses their knowledge to develop systems in the workplace in order to achieve optimum control over hazards detrimental to people, equipment, material and the environment.

ROH – Registered Occupational Hygienist / ROH – Registered Occupational Hygiene Technologist

A certification from the Canadian Registration Board of Occupational Hygienists, indicates the attainment and maintenance of a high standard of professionalism. There is a requirement of two to five years of professional experience as well as standard examination.  Depending on what certificate they obtain, individuals have the right to use the title Registered Occupational Hygienist (ROH) or Registered Occupational Hygiene Technologist (ROHT).


A designation is often less formal than a certification, and may contain some of the aspects of a certification, however these are often not required, or mandatory.  Some common designations are outlined below:

CSO – Construction Safety Officer

There are several CSO designating bodies across Canada for each province or territory. The umbrella organization for all other Construction Safety Associations is the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations. The designation verifies that a person has met the training, practical applications, years of experience and written examinations set out by each provincial association. Also, that they have a minimum of three years of practical construction-related experience.

NCSO – National Construction Safety Officer

The NCSO, through the British Columbia Construction Safety Alliance, is recognized as a national program that came into effect January 1,2017.  The NCSO program combines formal education, training and recognition of experience in construction safety coordination including administration and implementation of the company’s health and safety program.  The title of NCSO has been created to harmonize and standardize the certification for construction safety professionals in Canada. This would include a standardized body of knowledge to test on (national exam), have established core educational requirements, a continuing education program, and a three-year re-certification system.

Roles and Titles

In addition to designations and certifications, a safety professional can have a number of additional roles, or titles that are often dependent on education, training, and experience.  The titles may be Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) where they encompass occupational health in additional to safety

  • Safety Co-ordinator – employed to work with other team members or departments to coordinate safety requirements, and often a support role with a direct report responsible for safety within the organization
  • Safety Advisor – employed to provide safety experience, knowledge, and support may be an internal or external role
  • Hygienist – formally educated to understand, assess, monitor, and report on hygiene aspects of the workplace
  • OH&S Systems Manager – responsible for managing the safety program of an organization, usually involving internal and external audits, and maintenance of a standard expectation (COR, ISO etc.)
  • Risk Manager – responsible for managing aspects of risk within an organization, including OH&S, and environmental.

As you can see there are a number of aspects that may be appropriate in defining and choosing a safety professional, or career, depending on what your needs and interest are.

Pacific Safety would be happy to discuss our teams experience and how we may be a fit to assist you in assessing and addressing your safety needs.



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