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CSA set to release first Canadian standard for OHS training

By Linda Johnson
| www.cos-mag.com

The new standard for managing occupational health and safety training, to be released by the Canadian Standards Association later this month, will provide organizations with their first practical guide to managing an effective OHS training system, the chairperson of the CSA technical committee says.

“For the first time in Canada, we’re outlining a system for organizations to be able to look at and understand what a leading, quality program looks like,” says Dylan Short, managing director of the Redlands Group.

The standard, he adds, is outcome-oriented and gives employers a structured, measurable way of comparing training service providers.

“Right now, it can be difficult for organizations to understand and measure what quality training might look like, in part because there are many ways to get to outcomes,” he says.

“However, this standard describes the qualities and components of a quality training program developer and, if the standard is widely adopted, will bring the quality level of training delivered by providers up significantly.”

CSA developed the Occupational Health and Safety Training standard (Z1001–13) at the request of a number of organizations, including regulatory groups and non-governmental organizations, Short says. The technical committee had 36 members and included representatives of management, producers, labour and regulators.

The standard, less than 60 pages long, has three major parts, he says. The first covers training, administration and management of OHS training. This section defines roles and responsibilities; outlines processes on how to identify needs, objectives and outcomes; and outlines a method for establishing and administering a training program.

“This is the foundational piece that every organization needs because you need to have that structure in place where people are accountable and responsible to deliver certain elements,” he says.

The next section deals with establishing and maintaining a training program, Short says. After conducting a thorough needs assessment — covering the need for training, engineering controls and PPE — an organization needs to know how to design, develop and implement training, as well as how to evaluate a program to ensure it is achieving the expected goals.

The third part moves from the program to the course level, covering the development and maintenance of training courses.

Short says the standard is largely non-prescriptive, with the authors describing what a good training system and intended outcomes look like. However, it is prescriptive in its definition of training, that is, as an activity that has measurable outcomes.

“You have to be able to see that the knowledge, skills and abilities of individuals have attained a certain level. So you measure that outcome; it can be through a practical, demonstration exercise, through a quiz or through written exercises, depending on what role, or what knowledge, skill or ability the individual needs to learn,” he says.

Currently, the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) is also working on its own standards on OHS training.

Cordelia Clarke Julien, director of training and safety programs at the Ontario Prevention Office, says the two sets of standards reflect different content and purposes. While the CSA standards are entirely voluntary, the MOL standards — intended to ensure the same level of training is recognized across Ontario — will eventually be embodied in law and thus be binding on employers.

As well, she adds, the CSA is looking at occupational health and safety standards across the nation and from a management system perspective.

“The CSA standards — because they’re really broad and are general training standards — are not specific to any type of training,” she says. “We’re looking at very specific standards.”

Clarke Julien says the team responsible for creating the MOL standards has also participated in the CSA meetings, and they are aware of the need for consistency between the two sets of standards.

“We have the CSA standard framework in mind because we sit at that table as well, so we’re making sure that what we put in place is consistent, in terms of our regulations, with that standard,” she says.

“We’re doing our best to make sure there are no contradictions. But at the same time, as with all CSA standards, the standard may itself be contradictory to the legislation. That’s the challenge we face.”

The ministry is developing the standards in compliance with the recommendation, set out in the Tony Dean Expert Advisory panel report, that the mandate for prevention be transferred from the Workers’ Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) to the ministry. The report also recommended, in the preparation of standards, that priority be given to 11 high-risk work conditions.

Following on the report, Clarke Julien says, the MOL Prevention Office has been working on amendments to the Joint Health and Safety Certification standard (already included in the Occupational Health and Safety Act). These changes are to be released soon, she added.

It has also started to draft, in consultation with industry and labour groups, a training standard for people working at heights. When the draft standard is ready, expected in mid-2013, it will go out for broader consultation.

“We want to make sure everybody has full access and they have the ability to chime in on this standard, especially if it’s going to be mandated,” she says.

The MOL, Clarke Julien says, also plans soon to start developing standards for mandatory entry-level training in construction.

Some new MOL standards, she adds, apply across different sectors. For example, working at heights could apply to retail, construction and other industrial companies. Other types of standard, such as entry-level for construction, are industry-specific.

The MOL is also working on regulations covering worker awareness training. Though no standard for the training will be produced, the regulation will make it mandatory for all workers in Ontario to get basic awareness training on safety legislation, rules, rights and responsibilities.

The CSA standard, to be released as an e-publication only, is expected to be published by April 1.

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