Chair's Message Spring 2019 - Accreditation of OHS Programs

Spring 2019 is here - I hope – and the Board and many other volunteer #CRSPs are hard at work on our 2019 targets.  While all are important, there is one that I would like to highlight in this update.

As you may recall, early in 2018 the BCRSP and the CSSE formally committed to a more collaborative approach in areas of mutual interest and one of these is the establishment of an accreditation process for Canadian OHS academic programs at the college and university level.    

Having a robust academic accreditation process is a key milestone in the evolution of health and safety practice.  To an extent, it marks the transition of health and safety being more of an art i.e. something that is instinctive, learned as you go, common sense etc. to more of a science where sound principles, structured processes, and formal knowledge are mandatory.  Academic accreditation is also a defining characteristic of professionalism and a key component of any professional regulatory structure.  Over the past year, certificants have often been urged to become familiar with the INSHPO OHS Professional Capability Framework.  As this document indicates, the foundation of the professional practice of health and safety is formal academic programs at the college and university level, developed in accordance with the competency and capability profiles and maintained through a formal academic accreditation process.  Canada is behind most of our peers in this regard.

A joint BCRSP/CSSE Accreditation Taskforce has been working on this issue for the past number of months.  Structures and processes used in other jurisdictions as well as those used by professions in Canada have been researched and analysed. The Taskforce has also reached out to experts in the field in Australia and the US to gain better insight into what might work well in the Canadian context and, more importantly, what aspects will be problematical.  For example, the lack of a tradition of academic accreditation at the college level in Canada and the practice of placing health and safety programs within the realm of continuing education rather than traditional faculties both present challenges.  None the less the Taskforce is well on its way to finalizing a conceptual model for Canada.  Our goal is to present the proposed model at the bi-annual BCRSP sponsored National Educational Symposium (NES) which will be held in Ottawa during May. The NES brings together representatives from across Canada from the colleges and universities which offer OHS certificate, diploma, and degree programs and serves as a forum for discussion between institutions and other stakeholders.  

While we fully expect that more development will be required, the establishment and implementation of the accreditation process by 2020 is a strategic objective and a fundamental component of the BCRSP/CSSE National Framework.