Industry Special: The National Construction Safety Officer designation provides national recognition for safety specialists

Journal of Commerce | BCCSA | June 25, 2019

Industry Special: The National Construction Safety Officer designation provides national recognition for safety specialists

A little more than two years after it was established, the National Construction Safety Officer (NCSO™) program continues to benefit construction companies as the first nationally-recognized construction safety designation created by and for the construction industry.

Devised under the umbrella of the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations, the NCSO™ designation creates a national standard for construction safety officers. It verifies that a person has met the common training, practical application, years of experience and written performance measurement standards set out by its members regarding various construction safety management skills and principles.

In addition to core compulsory training elements involving 12 courses (including electives) an NCSO™ must have a total of three years of practical construction-related experience within the last 10 years.

“Each provincial and territorial safety association recognizes a common core of skills and experience set out under the NCSO™ designation,” says Ammar Kavazovic, NCSO™ coordinator with the BC Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA), the provincial authority with jurisdiction over the program in British Columbia. “However, each jurisdiction has the right to set additional standards over and above the minimum standards we all agree on.”

The designation makes it much easier for safety officers to relocate from one jurisdiction to another.

“In BC, we most commonly see safety officers migrating between here and Alberta,” says Kavazovic. “Anecdotally, I’m hearing from people that more contractors in BC are asking for NCSO™ certification as part of a job requirement. A lot of times, I have people calling me when they come here from Alberta with an NCSO™ and asking me if they need to achieve a BC NCSO™ designation. My answer is usually ‘no.” If your employer is fine with an Alberta NCSO™ then you can hit the ground running.”

However, for those who plan to work permanently in another province, it’s always a good idea to get up speed on regulatory and legislative differences in that province and write a small equivalency test to achieve an NCSO™ there. “

“The NCSO™ works on a three-year recertification schedule,” says Kavazovic. “If you continue to work in another jurisdiction for three years, you might as well recertify there.”

The NCSO™ designation is also proving advantageous to contractors who work across jurisdictions.

“They don’t have to retrain OH&S reps from the ground up working from province to province,” says Tammy Oliver, senior director with BCCSA. “In certain jurisdictions where NCSO™s  are a pre-bid requirement, out-of-jurisdiction contractors who bid successfully for work can take existing staff with them.”

To date, the BCCSA has certified more than 100 NCSO™s.

A second national designation, the National Health and Safety Administrator (NHSA™) indicates to employers that the participant has practical and theoretical knowledge in various health and safety management skills and principles, but does not currently possess a minimum of three years of construction safety- related field experience. Holders of an NHSA™ designation can offer valuable administrative support to a company and NCSO™ in implementing and maintaining a health and safety program.

“Under NCSO™, the construction industry now has access to a growing pool of OH&S specialists who have construction-related experience as a pre-requirement,” says Oliver. “This makes the provision of on-site safety  consistent and ensures that the skills of these specialists come from a place of experience, not just from the theoretical knowledge of a book. We believe this translates into workers having a better chance of avoiding injury.”

This content is an Industry Special by BCCSA in collaboration with ConstructConnect™ Media. To learn more about BCCSA, visit www.bccsa.ca. For more information on the NCSO™ designation, email ncso@bccsa.ca