Considering becoming an occupational health and safety officer? OHS professionals play a key role in preventing workplace accidents, injuries, and deaths.
Every employer in Canada must follow health and safety laws to ensure workers are protected while performing their duties.
This includes everything from physical safety to environmental issues, emergency procedures, and emotional well-being.
Health and safety officers help enforce these laws by performing audits and inspections. They also work closely with companies to reduce risks, deliver safety training, and investigate accidents.
If you want to work in this field, you need comprehensive OHS training that leads to national certification.
Your first step? Selecting a quality OHS diploma program.
In this post, we'll walk you through 6 key features of a trustworthy OHS program.
Training that includes these attributes will put you on track to a successful career in workplace health and safety.
1. Your OHS diploma program must be approved by the BCRSP
This is the most important element to look for when selecting an OHS diploma program. The Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP) is the most important, non-profit OHS organization in Canada.
They offer OHS certifications that are respected and recognized all across Canada.
If your OHS program is approved by the BCRSP, you can apply for the Canadian Registered Safety Technician (CRST) Certification straight after graduation.
The CRST is the first level of certification and is a requirement for some OHS jobs. Having this credential can help you land your first position after graduation.
Also, once you have your CRST, you can begin working toward the next level of certification: the Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) Certification.
You need just 4 years of work experience to become a CRSP.
2. Expert Instructor with Years of health and Safety Experience
Getting companies to implement new health and safety policies is not easy.
Many employers and workers are skeptical of change and reluctant to accept new approaches—even if it's for their own protection.
This is not an easy role to break into. This is why you need an instructor with a proven track record, who has worked in various OHS roles, in different parts of the workplace safety industry.
You need that “inside” knowledge to prepare for the challenges ahead. An expert instructor will share advice and first-hand experience that will be crucial to your success at work.
When comparing health and safety training, be sure to ask about the instructor. Inquire about their professional background, which companies they’ve worked for, and what positions they’ve held.
Andrew Pugachev is an instructor for the Occupational Health and Safety program at Herzing College. He teaches the online version of the training.
Andrew is a good example of a seasoned professional who brings a wealth of real experience to the classroom.
Learn more about his background, and see the kind of experience to look for when evaluating instructors:
3. Make sure the OHS diploma includes an internship
If you’re new to the health and safety field, and don’t have any related experience on your resume, an internship is crucial for getting your foot in the door.
Not all OHS programs come with a guaranteed work placement. Ensure the diploma you choose gives you the chance to work at a local company before you graduate.
You need this workplace experience to strengthen the skills you’ve learned in class. It’s also a good way to gain confidence and make industry contacts.
Plus, internships are often recruiting tools for companies looking to hire new OHS employees. This could be your chance to get noticed—and get hired—after completing your program.
“Our internship program has seen placement for students within construction, manufacturing, trucking and safety auditing organizations. Grads are getting hired straight out of their internships, which is excellent.”
- Andrew Pugachev, OHS Instructor, Herzing College
4. Accelerated format that gets you to work faster
Many students are looking to complete their OHS diploma and start work as quickly as possible.
They don’t want to compromise on the quality of their training, but they'd rather not spend years in school.
If this is the case for you, an accelerated OHS program is the way to go.
Most accelerated programs can be completed in just one year. There is more emphasis on practical, job-ready skills—and less time spent studying theory or doing general education courses.
The goal of accelerated health and safety training is to prepare students for entry-level employment.
Once in the workplace, you will build skills through experience, earn your certifications, and qualify for more advanced positions.
Not interested in an accelerated program?
There are also part-time OHS programs you can complete at a slower pace. Just make sure they meet the other criteria on this list.
5. An option for online Learning
At least 50% of our students across Canada prefer to study online. The popularity of online college programs has skyrocketed in recent years. Health and safety training is no exception.
Need to work while you study or have a family to take care of? A flexible OHS diploma with online learning options can make a huge difference.
Just remember: Ensure the online version still comes with an internship. The curriculum should be no different than the on-campus program.
6. A few other things to keep in mind...
In addition to the features we’ve already covered, there are a few other things to consider when choosing a quality OHS program.
Most programs teach similar skills and have a similar curriculum. But colleges can be very different in terms of learning experience, reputation, admissions support, and employment rates.
When you're comparing OHS diplomas, be sure to research the following:
☑️ Career support to help you get hired
☑️ College reputation and reviews
☑️ Classroom facilities
☑️ Graduate employment rates
☑️ Admissions services
What's your next step?
After you have found a few colleges you like, your next step is to speak with an Admissions Advisor at each school.
This is the best way to ask questions, and verify the OHS program meets all the criteria on this list.
A good Advisor will guide you through the training, explain costs and financial aid options, discuss your scheduling needs, and confirm you're a good fit for the career.
Get started by exploring the OHS diploma program offered at Herzing College. This program is available in Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, and online.
We are approved by the BCRSP.
Click below to explore the training and chat live with an Advisor. We're here to help.