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Occupational Safety and Health Training

By: Henry E. Payne, Ph.D., Contributor

It is important to recognize the difference between a course completion certificate, a certificate program and a recognized professional certification. © Wolfilser – stock.adobe.com

All workers need occupational safety and health training. More pointedly, they require training on the specific hazards they will encounter at their distinct worksites. Workers are frequently injured or made ill on the job because they encountered job hazards they were either not aware of, or they lack training on how to safely respond. Awareness training on job hazards is essential in helping keep workers safe.

Workers in offices, retail, fast food, healthcare and delivery, as well as workers in manufacturing and construction, face hazards which are specific to their worksites. Safety and health training must be targeted to distinct worksite hazards. Initial awareness training is a great way to start new workers to become aware of hazards they may encounter, but it is not enough. All workers need updated training, at least on an annual basis, to be reminded of the hazards they face, as well as introduced to new hazards they may encounter as workers’ jobs evolve and include additional tasks.

Worker training needs should include both recognition of specific job-related hazards and training on how to respond to encountered hazards. Some hazards can be corrected when encountered by workers, such as an overloaded electrical outlet or an emergency exit blocked by boxes and trash. Other hazards may be best addressed by changes in work processes or equipment. Supervisory personnel typically implement these types of changes.

Benefits of Training

Occupational safety and health training is also good for employers. Injured or ill workers tend to miss work for considerable periods of time. In some cases, they never return to work, requiring the hiring and training of a new employee, which is costly to employers. Additionally, knowing fellow workers have been exposed to hazards, resulting in an injury or illness, can have a negative impact on other workers’ morale and reduce productivity.

An injured, ill or deceased worker can also have an impact on company profits. Worker’s compensation insurance increases with work injuries and illness. Worker life insurance premiums increase with worker fatalities. These increased costs reduce profits and often lead to increased pressure on remaining workers to increase productivity—further reducing worker morale. Simple hazard awareness and annual updated training can go a long way in avoiding many injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

Know Your Certifications

In the field of occupational safety and health, certifications are important and are widely recognized as a measure of expert proficiency. But it is essential that individuals and organizations understand the difference between a course completion certificate, a certificate program and a recognized professional certification.

Professional credentials, also known as professional certifications, are earned and are awarded by recognized professional organizations to verify one’s professional qualifications and competence. They attest to a specified process and successful completion of criteria established and maintained by the professional organizations.

Professional Certifications

Certification is a formal process that recognizes and validates one’s qualifications and knowledge in a specific subject. Individuals earn certifications to assure they are qualified to perform a job or task through the acknowledgement of educational and professional achievement. Certificates verify that certificate holders have achieved a specified, baseline level of competence in a specific subject area and assures employers that the individuals are capable of handling the challenges their job responsibilities present.

Certifications are earned from a professional society or board and must be renewed periodically, generally through completed continuing education units. Widely recognized certifications in the field of occupational safety and health include Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST) and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH).

The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) establishes and certifies the technical competency criteria for safety, health and environmental practitioners, including the CSP and CHST credentials.

The CSP credential provides safety practitioners a path to greater recognition and career opportunities, offering a certification that demonstrates the individual has met the requirements for specific standards of safety, health and environmental knowledge and experience. The CSP credential is often considered the industry’s most recognized safety, health and environmental certification.

The CHST credential is for construction job sites’ safety, health and environment specialists. Responsibilities for safety, health and environment may be all or part of a CHST’s job duties, which may cover one or more significant construction projects or job sites. Candidates may work for an owner, general contractor, subcontractor or firm involved in construction.

The Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) certification is the premier certification for occupational health and safety professionals around the world. It is also considered the top certification for indoor air-quality consultants. This most prestigious certification is offered by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (BGC) and is accredited through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

Certificates

A course completion certificate indicates an individual has successfully completed an academic or training course. This is not considered a professional certification. The certificate of completion is issued at the end of the training, and no additional renewals are required. Many colleges, universities and professional training organizations issue course completion certificates.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs consist of multiple courses related to one particular aspect or topic area. This is not considered a professional certification. Individuals typically complete certificate programs related to their field, which supplements or enhances an individual’s prior education. Many colleges, universities and professional training organizations offer certificate programs.

Accreditation

Accreditation is an essential component for any training provider. Being evaluated and accredited by an independent, third-party organization, using accepted standards for education and training, ensures the training demonstrates a high level of validity, integrity and quality. This is an essential component in many fields in which professional certifications are prevalent. This is especially true in the field of occupational safety and health, as it relates to professional certifications, such as Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST) and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), which require ongoing Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in order maintain these certifications.

Training is an important component in keeping workers safe on the job. It is also helpful in advancing the careers of safety professionals. Be sure to find the appropriate training and accredited training provider to meet your needs for your work and career. WMHS

Henry E. Payne, Ph.D., is President of Global OSHA, which provides safety and health training programs and courses worldwide (www.globalosha.org).

New Certifications in the OHS Arena

Throughout the years, the role of a safety professional has shifted from a one-person show to a team of diverse individuals tackling the obstacles in workplace safety. While many unexpectedly stepped into a safety role, others consciously chose safety as their profession. Regardless of how safety became their responsibility, numerous professionals have invested years into training and professional development to improve their safety programs and advance their careers. The decision on where to go from here is a question NASP (National Association of Safety Professionals) hears often.

For many, obtaining a safety certification has appeared to be an overwhelming process. Would obtaining a certification positively impact one’s career if one already holds a degree? Furthermore, for those without a degree, deciding whether to pursue a degree to obtain a well-recognized safety certification has been a heavy weight to consider. Yet, an increasing number of companies, non-profits and government organizations prefer to work with (or require) individuals with certifications from recognized programs.

NASP developed the Certified Safety Director (CSD) and Master Safety Professional (MSP) certifications to recognize and validate qualified safety professionals, including those with or without a degree. These certifications focus on individuals with the “boots on the ground” safety training and experience necessary for workplace safety. While we all can agree higher education is valuable, it’s not the driving factor in keeping workers safe. These tests focus on regulatory knowledge, safety management systems, training methodologies and other OHS  with less emphasis on math and engineering theories like other similar certifications.

As the benchmark in practical workplace safety certification, the CSD and MSP certifications provide a wealth of benefits to those who obtain them. First and foremost, certifications establish your professional credibility. Obtaining the CSD or MSP certifications demonstrates your commitment to superior professionalism, upholding industry standards, and continued education and training. Having the training and certification that your competitors don’t provides you with the competitive edge you need to differentiate yourself from other professionals in the EHS field.

Achieving your MSP or CSD certification is about more than simply stating what you have accomplished. You will likely learn new techniques and skills — not only those associated with your field but also transferable skills such as training methodologies, discipline and communication.

The time and effort invested in professional certifications often result in an increased salary. Companies understand that individuals who invest in their certification(s) have the knowledge, skills and abilities that they are looking for in their future employees, and they are willing to pay for it. In the latest 2020 EHS Salary Survey, EHS professionals with no certifications reported an average annual salary of $84,200. EHS professionals that held one certification reported an average salary of $96,260, and those with two or more certifications averaged $109,360 annually!

Interested in learning more about the CSD and MSP Certifications? Visit the NASP Certifications overview page at https://naspweb.com/nasp-iasp-inc-certification-program/.

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