Certification training: If changes were announced this month, would you know what to expect?

Oct 18, 2012

Certification training: If changes were announced this month, would you know what to expect?A key component to the strong foundation of the internal responsibility system is the participation of all parties in the joint health and safety committee and relevant certification training. Changes to the current certification program have been discussed and reviewed for over three years. Results of these long anticipated changes are expected to be announced very soon. They are expected to help workplaces improve their injury prevention efforts by strengthening committee effectiveness and engagement.

Once the changes are released, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) will post information on the website and in an upcoming issue of HSO Network News.

In the interim, read on for more about

  • implications for workplaces
  • what the law requires, and why
  • possible changes to current requirements
  • WSPS's certification training options

Implications for workplaces

Employers will likely have some time to comply with the new standards. They will apply to all workplaces required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act to have a joint health and safety committee (JHSC). Essentially, most Ontario workplaces with 20 employees or more.

In the interim, workplaces are expected to comply with existing requirements.

What the law requires, and why

The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that a worker member and a management member of the JHSC receive specific training, known as certification training. Conducted in two parts, this training covers health and safety law, as well as how to identify, assess and control hazards.

This training is intended to help the JHSC fulfill two key functions under the act:

  • identify workplace hazards through such activities as inspections and investigations
  • make recommendations to the employer on health and safety issues and on programs and ways to improve health and safety

The province implemented certification training standards in 1996. In 2001, the province added a requirement for workplace-specific hazard training, known as Certification Part Two.

Consultation on possible changes

In 2009, the Workplace Safety and Prevention Board sought input on possible changes to the certification standards that would better reflect the current work environment and the training needs of certified members, while ensuring delivery of consistent, high quality training.

To facilitate the consultation process, a certification review committee was assembled, comprising representatives from labour, employers, the Ministry of Labour, certification training providers, health and safety associations such as WSPS, and an adult learning specialist. The review committee prepared and released a consultation paper seeking input on a number of topics. It received 80 written submissions.

The table below contains a sampling of topics identified in the consultation paper, as well as stakeholder feedback. The feedback to these and other topics and feedback helped shape the revised certification standards, and hint at what changes may appear in the new standards.

Certification Consultation

Sample Topics



Duration of Certification Part One training Should the standards specify a minimum duration? The current requirement is for at least 2 days, but was initially for 3 days. Most respondents supported a minimum duration to help ensure the training achieves its goals. Within this group, most recommendations ranged from 3 to 5 days.

Creating a hazard assessment template or tool for Certification Part Two

Would a tool that could guide employers through the assessment process be useful?

Most respondents agreed.

Providing a preset sector list of hazards

Would a list be useful for employers in determining their significant hazards?

Most respondents agreed.

Accreditation of training providers for Certification Part Two

Would accrediting Part Two training providers help improve training quality? Providers of Part One Certification Training already require accreditation.

Response was mixed, providing no clear direction.

Instructor competency

The current standards do not include well-defined specifications re: instructor qualifications. Consequently, instructors’ background, experience and qualifications vary.

Most respondents supported the concept of requiring instructors to meet a training and/or competency standard in order to provide training.

Expiry of certification status

A certified member trained years earlier may not be up-to-date with workplace hazards, committee responsibilities or changes in legislation.

Most respondents were in favour of an expiration period. The two most popular time frames were every 3 years and every 5 years.

Interactivity to aid learning

Concerns have been raised that application of adult learning principles in the training delivery is weakening. The current standards do not specify the extent of activities to ensure learning objectives are adequately addressed.

Most respondents supported modifying learning objectives to identify areas where interactive activities are required, enabling students to practice skills or demonstrate knowledge.

Adding interpersonal skills to course content

Should interpersonal skills be added to training requirements as a way of helping certified members deal with workplace issues and conflicts?

Response was mixed. Many respondents agreed this training would be useful, but disagreed that it should be a requirement for certification.

WSPS’s certification training options

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) has already begun updating its certification training offerings to meet or exceed requirements. Here's what's already available now:

1. Certification Part One

  • Certification Part One: Generic (2 days)
  • Certification Part One: Manufacturing (3 days)
  • Certification Part One: Service (3 days)

2. Certification Part Two

  • Certification Part Two: Manufacturing (2 days)
  • Certification Part Two: Offices (1 day)
  • Certification Part Two: Food and Beverage (2days)
  • Certification Part Two: Service Sector (1 day)

3. Certification Parts One and Two: Offices

4. Related sessions at upcoming Partners in Prevention conferences and trade shows Partners in Prevention conferences and trade shows. For example:

  • Kitchener, October 30
    • Getting the Picture: Accident Investigation Interviews
    • Joint Health & Safety Committees: Mock Meeting
  • Thunder Bay (Forum North), November 6-7
    • Effective Joint Health and Safety Committees
    • Just the Facts Ma'am! Investigating Incidents with Purpose
  • Niagara Falls, November 20
    • Getting the Picture: Accident Investigation Interviews
  • Markham, November 28
    • Just the Facts Ma'am: Investigating Incidents With Purpose

Check upcoming issues of HSO Network News and HSO Network Magazine for more on the final changes to the certification training standards, how they'll affect your business, and steps you can take to maximize your investment in certification training.