Your health and safety manager might seem to have all the answers when you ask about safety in your workplace, but where does it all come from? While it might seem like knowledge you can gather from common sense and some time on the job, many Health and Safety managers have studied and specialized in this field for years.
Health and safety has come a very long way in the last few decades. With more regulations and safety standards in place to keep workers safe, it's understandable that companies want to have someone knowledgeable in charge to keep them on track. While years on the job and an outstanding safety record may have helped land that gig in years past, it has become increasingly important that health and safety professionals have a higher level of training and education. So if you've ever thought about becoming a health and safety manager, you'll want to start exploring the options available to you.
What is a safety manger?
While you have probably all encountered a safety manager and have an idea of what they do, let's just go over their responsibilities quickly. You might discover something you didn't know about beforehand.
- Promotes safety awareness among all workers
- Arranges and coordinates safety training and exercises
- Ensure that safety is the priority in all operations
- Investigates and reports accidents and near misses
- Follows up post on injury procedures
- Organizes safety meetings
- Assists with safety inspections and audits
- Manages all aspects of the Safety Management System (SMS)
- Provides safety advice to top management
- Monitors and controls the effectiveness of the SMS
- Proposes corrective actions and improvements
- Produces safety reports
- Prepares and updates safety related documents and records
They must also have good communication and interpersonal skills (remember, this position is all about worker interaction), and a deep understanding of all health and safety legislation, standards, laws, current events, all while maintaining their own certifications.
General knowledge about the industry they are working in is always an asset, but can definitely be learned on the job. While the basics of occupational health and safety will stay the same, certain industry specific hazards may need some industry specific solutions to effectively mitigate the risks.
Now before we move on, we are going to take a second to assume that you are reading this because you are interested in maybe giving this a shot yourself, or know of someone who could be really good at it. And we applaud that! OH&S is a core element of any business. I mean, how are you going to keep things running if everyone is ill or injured?
On the other hand, if you're here because you think we have great posts, or just for your own curiosity, we hope you don't feel too left out of this next part.
So, if we still have your attention, let's move on to the next step!
What education or certification do I require to become a Health and Safety professional?
So now that we know what a health and safety manager does, let's answer the question at the heart of this entire post: is there a school for safety managers?
In short, yes. There are multiple post secondary institutions that offer all levels of education regarding occupational health and safety, from certificates up to PHDs. The level of training required really depends on the end goal.
A CRSP (Canadian Registered Safety Professional) is a designation that not only validates the work you have done in health and safety so far, it also permits you to work under that credential abroad, particularly in the US, the UK and Australia.
If you want to obtain your CRSP, the following are the minimum requirements you're going to need to complete:
- A Bachelor's degree (in any field) or a 2 year diploma in occupational health and safety or a closely related field.
- Four years of experience in a health and safety environment
While this designation can come as an advantage, it isn't mandatory, and the maintenance, which may be covered by some employers, can take up a lot of time and money.
We can go more in-depth into this process in another post, just make sure you let us know in the comments if you're interested!
What if I'm not planning on getting a CRSP?
OK, so you aren't sure that going all in on a CRSP is right for you. We have good news: a degree and a CRSP aren't necessary. If you are looking for a career change, or are just looking at moving up in your current organization by upgrading your education, obtaining a certificate may be a better option for you. Most of the schools that offer certificate programs also give you the ability to take distance or part-time studies, so you don't need to stop getting hours of experience while also getting your education.
Where can I go to get my education and certification?
A number of post secondary institutions across Canada offer studies in occupational health and safety. We aren't going to list them all here, because there are quite a few, but you can find the list and contact information for them on the CCOHS website. What we can do though, is show you where in the country you have the best chances of studying:
BC AB SK MB ON QC NL NB NS
Long story short
Ok. Let's recap and wrap this up. Yes, schools for safety managers exist. Yes, they cater to all levels and types of education. And, yes, there is one not too far away from you. It's important to keep in mind that getting your certificate/diploma/degree is just the first step in what will be a long term learning process. You will need to continue to develop, re-certify and obtain new certifications throughout your career. You may even need to learn how to train the rest of your company, or at the very least, figure out how to organize training sessions so that everyone can stay compliant with all workplace safety regulations and policies. Most companies will help you achieve these as long as they will help you make the workplace safer for all their workers. Because, at the end of the day that's what safety managers do. Safety managers keep everyone safe.