Industry Special: Checking it twice: why quality assurance is critical to delivering construction safety programs

Journal of Commerce | BCCSA | October 26, 2020

You can always try to audit your own strengths and weaknesses, but you’ll never get a really good view from the seat you’re occupying. It’s a simple truth that underlines the quality assurance (QA) infrastructure put in place by the BC Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA) to ensure that all of its construction safety training and certification programs deliver on their promise.

“The Alliance manages safety training programs, develops curriculum and training materials — even trains the trainers — but we don’t deliver the actual training,” says Mike McKenna, executive director, BCCSA. “Training and certification is delivered by professionals who are experts in their subject area under contract to us, or recognized by us, but not employed by us. It’s vitally important to keep the training function at arm’s length, which allows us to objectively apply QA standards to help them consistently deliver the skills and knowledge required.”

Teresa Holloran is BCCSA’s QA specialist for its Traffic Control Program (TCP), the certification required for all construction workers involved in high-risk traffic control. Training is currently delivered everywhere in the province by 38 contracted TCP training instructors.

“Quality assurance maintains consistency in the delivery of the courses and support the integrity of the program,” she says. “We’re mandated to provide training everywhere in the province and we need to be sure that the course content is delivered in the same way everywhere — not different versions of the course. The QA requirements are transparent, so everybody understands the benchmarks they need to achieve.”

TCP trainers undergo a rigorous QA audit at least once during their three-year contract with BCCSA. Under that process, Holloran monitors actual training delivery, whether a two-day regular course or a one-day recertification course. Additional evaluations can include an unscheduled course drop-in, or further follow-ups based on comments from students or employers, or anomalies in paperwork submitted by instructors.

QA is also vital to the Certificate of Recognition (COR®) program, an incentive program which recognizes companies who develop and implement health and safety and injury management systems that meet an industry standard. Under the program, for which the Alliance is a certifying partner for construction employers, audits must be completed either by a permanent employee of the company who has completed BCCSA’s two-day COR® Internal Auditor Training course or an external auditor certified by BCCSA through a five-day training course.

“We apply QA processes to both the internal auditors and to the external auditors,” says Anita Kitkowski, QA specialist, COR® with BCCSA. “We need to ensure that COR®-certified auditors uphold the practices and standards we set out, according to WorkSafeBC guidelines, and that the audits are being conducted consistently for all organizations who use BCCSA as their certifying partner.”

Every audit report submitted to BCCSA goes through an internal QA review. Kitkowski also conducts randomized shadow audits alongside external auditors. In some cases a second limited evaluation of the company is conducted after the initial audit by external auditors has been completed.

“Although not directly employed by the BCCSA, our recognized external auditors are an extension of the Alliance,” she says. “It’s vitally important for us to ensure we have the highest calibre of auditors representing us.”

However, quality assurance for any program does more than hold instructors and auditors to account.

“The quality assurance process provides us with an objective look at how we’re performing as well,” says McKenna. “It gives us a benchmark from which these programs can be continuously improved.”

This content is an Industry Special by BCCSA in collaboration with ConstructConnect™ Media. To learn more about BCCSA, visit