40th Anniversary Feature: 1976 to 2016 A Brief History of the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP)

This is part of a series of articles that are being published throughout 2016 in commemoration of the BCRSP’s 40th Anniversary Celebration, 1976-2016

Contributor: Nicola Wright, CAE, Executive Director

In 1973, the Education and Research Committee of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) was assigned the task of conducting a study on the feasibility of certifying safety professionals in Canada. As a result of the work of this committee, it was recommended that a Board of Governors be established for the purpose of testing and certifying safety professionals in Canada. 

The first draft of the Guideline Procedures for Qualifying Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (CRSP) was presented to the National Executive of the CSSE in April of 1974. A second, and more detailed draft of the Guidelines was presented to the Executive in September of that year. The Guideline document included the following criteria:

  • Establish a Board of Governors to oversee the CRSP certification process
  • Outline the procedures for qualifying as CRSP
  • Detail the basic criteria to be eligible, including an outline of the experience requirements. 

This approved draft together with an accompanying letter was sent to the members of CSSE for their input. The response from the CSSE membership was excellent and a formal motion was put forward that a Steering Committee be appointed to establish the Board of Governors, and the soon to become Association for Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (ACRSP ). The first meeting of the Steering Committee was held in November of 1974. Stemming from the initial and subsequent meetings of the Steering Committee, in March of 1975, the first meeting of the Board of Governors was held to establish the minimum standards for becoming a CRSP, to draft bylaws, and to determine the scope and function of the Board.  Incorporation was granted by Industry Canada on February 10, 1976.

The early CRSPs were required to meet stringent eligibility criteria that were embodied in the first bylaws before they could be accepted for registration. Each individual who was registered in the months following incorporation was identified as a Charter Member, and 74 individuals were registered in the first year. The first CRSP registration number was issued to William O.G. Wellington (76-001) who also served as the first Chair of the Board of Governors. 

Those who were approved for certification were issued a certificate of registration which confirmed their qualification and entitled them to use the CRSP mark of professional status.  By the BCRSP’s 10th Anniversary in 1986, there were 553 individuals who had been certified as CRSPs. By the 25th Anniversary, 1873 individuals had been certified. 

From the early days of the BCRSP, the application review and interview process were established as part of the application procedures. The mandatory examination was introduced in 1982, and in 2001 this examination transitioned to the multiple choice format that is utilized today. 

1976 - 2016: Then and Now Chart
  Then – 1976 Now – 2016
Total # of Registration Numbers Issued 74 5947
Governance 15 member Board of Governors comprised of safety professionals. 10 member Board of Governors comprised of 9 safety professionals and 1 public member.
Examination Was not mandatory. Could be required following assessment of professional  qualifications (experience, education, etc.). Examination became mandatory in 1982. Mandatory for all candidates.
Code of Ethics “Oath of Office”, a copy of which must be signed by all certificants upon acceptance as a CRSP. “Rules of Professional Conduct”, a copy of which must be signed by all certificants upon acceptance as a CRSP. 
Annual Operating Budget Less than $10,000 ~ 1.3 million
Application Fee $50 $525
Annual Renewal Fee $15 $250
Time Allowed for Examination 6 Hours (two, three-hour segments, essay, short answer, multiple choice) 3.5 Hours (computer-based, multiple choice)
Standing Committees Constitution and Bylaws 
Disciplinary Review 
Standards Qualification and Application Review
Certification Maintenance 
Finance and Constitution 
Item Writing 
Item Bank Maintenance 
Internal Audit 
Nominations and Leadership Development 
Professional Conduct 
Professional Credentials Recognition 
Qualifications Review 
Registered Logo *The logo was registered in 1986 and the ® added. 


The 1980s and 90s were a time of growth and change for the organization. From the introduction of the mandatory examination, the introduction of the Certification Maintenance Program (1989-initially called the Mandatory Maintenance Program), the launch of the newsletter Governor’s Table (1992), establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP-USA) (1991), and the launch of the website (1998), the BCRSP continued to develop the certification standards, external communications, and relationships with other stakeholders. 

In the early 2000s, the Board focused on certification organization best practices, establishing a public member position on the Board, achieving accreditation to ISO 17024 and ISO 9001 standards, additional trademark registrations, and the development of the CRSP Examination Blueprint. In the last five years, the BCRSP has undergone a transition in Governance, Bylaws, established an MOU with the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH-UK), and continued efforts at increasing the promotion and recognition of the CRSP certification globally. 

In 2016, we are proud to be celebrating our 40th Anniversary in conjunction with the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering’s (CSSE) Professional Development Conference.  We recognize and thank the dedication and foresight of the pioneers involved in creating, promoting, and in the early years, administering the Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) standard. Looking back I think the founding Governors would be proud of our achievements. Looking forward to the next 40 years, we have unlimited opportunities for growth and enhancement of the OHS profession while contributing to safe and healthy workplaces through certification. Stay tuned… 

What are your thoughts and memories? We’d like to hear from you. Email us at mycrsp@bcrsp.ca or post a comment below.