In My Own Words - Chad Schwabe, CRSP

Chad Schwabe, CRSP

There was a point in my career as a Field Safety Coordinator where I did not ever think I would obtain "any" post secondary education relating to my profession, let alone achieving the CRSP designation. The colleagues I was surrounded with at the time did not have any formal titles behind their names nor did they profess that it made a person better at the safety profession than the next. The normal type of response to titles behind one’s name was that field experience, on the job training, and relationship building is what made the biggest impact into achieving Safety Management System implementation. This was true on many levels, but, you must agree that each profession has its competency certifications and/or designations, just as the trades/Journeyman does theirs.......

This is what I learned working for my previous employer, whom, expected me to take, as a minimum, the Occupational Health and Safety Certificate Program (OHSCP) at the University of Alberta. I was told the CRSP was nice to have, but it was not a requirement at that time. The company paid for the education and gave you allowances for the classroom time during work hours, but there was no room left for study/work/life balance. This is the price one pays to achieve the education while working, and it should serve as a staunch reminder to oneself, that this "is" something useful, and will help me in my work duties later down the road no matter what employer signs my paycheck. Once I finished the OHSCP, a lot of water had passed under the bridge, and there was a change in management and fellow colleagues. There were many that would ask me, "Are you going to apply to the BCRSP?" I thought, yes, it would be nice to have but does it make me a better safety professional? It wasn't until my new manager had said, “Please ask your fellow co-workers who are CRSP's to assist you in the application process, and log the process in your corporate goals.” You see, in my world, if my superiors did not push me towards the achievement (and it is an achievement), and the HR department had not imposed corporate goals for all employees to better themselves, I don't think I would have pursued it. 

Later, as I was left alone to my everyday duties at work, I started to see the education paying off in areas where I used to have no knowledge. My presentation and public speaking skills rose above where I was just a few measly years back because I had a wealth of background and technical knowledge. My one-on-one answers to common HSE questions/queries were more fluent as if I had more years of experience than I did; I had definitely "bettered myself." 

Now that it is done and I look back on the effort and long days/nights/weekends studying, I do believe in it's worth, as a Journeyman does their Red Seal Certification, with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Rest assured though, I do not think for "one moment" that I am better than a fellow safety professional who does not have the title behind their name. It was in fact the people without the titles, who were my first mentors, who instilled the foundation of "people first, safety second" relationship building into my everyday safety culture techniques, and not safety cop nit-picking that drives people away from the safety professional. I hold the effort and learnings to achieve a very high quality designation such as the CRSP close to the chest as one would a royal flush poker hand, but, I also remember it is one of the tools in my tool box, and everyone regardless of titles has their areas of strengths and weaknesses. 

It "is" worth it, and in the end, you "will" be glad you did everything to achieve the CRSP designation. You "will" put the title after your name with pride, but, you will also know what I mean when I say that it is only one of the tools in your toolbox.