OHS Canada Magazine

Q&A: CSA Group’s Worker and Public Safety team has a full safety agenda

June 26, 2023
By CSA Group
Health & Safety

Photo: Adobe Stock

During COVID-19, CSA Group focused on several high-profile projects to support the response to the pandemic including development of a new National Standard of Canada, CSA Z94.4.1:21, Performance standard for filtering respirators.

This focus on worker and public safety has been a constant for CSA Group’s Standards Development organization. Its Worker and Public Safety team is focused on the development of standards, research, and tools across several important areas including PPE, work disability management, fall protection, impairment, and extreme conditions.

Candace Sellar, Program Manager for Worker and Public Safety Standards shares what the team has in store for 2023.

What are the key priorities for CSA Group’s Worker and Public Safety team in 2023?

2023 is already shaping up to be a busy year for CSA Group’s Worker and Public Safety team and our many expert members who volunteer their time to the standard development process.

This spring, CSA Group will publish the fourth edition of CSA Z432, Safeguarding of machinery.


We will also kick off the 60-day public review process for several standards including CSA Z797, Code of practice for access scaffold (New Edition), CSA A344, User guide for steel storage racks (New Edition), CSA Z259.20, Horizontal rigid rail anchorage systems for fall protection (New Standard), CAN/CGSB/CSA- Z1610, Protection of first responders from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) events (New Edition), and CSA Z94.4-18, Selection, care, and use of respirators (New Edition).

Helping to support and inform our standards development work, CSA Group’s research team is working on several papers, including one focused on Employees’ Perceived Psychological Health and Safety Experience During COVID-19 Through an Inclusion Lens which I think will be of particular interest to this community.

As Canadians learn to live with COVID-19 and fewer Canadians are choosing or are required to wear masks or respirators in the workplace, will CSA Group move away from investing time and resources into standards focused on masks and respirators?

CSA Group will continue to invest time and resources into developing and updating standards for respiratory protection. We learned many lessons from COVID-19 and preceding events such as SARS, but it is important to note that respiratory PPE has also been and will continue to be a control to manage hazards in the workplace and beyond.

CSA Group’s expert volunteer members are also committed to exploring how equity-related concerns can be better addressed in CSA’s PPE standards, including the new edition of CSA Z94.4-18, Selection, care, and use of respirators, which is currently under development.

Beyond standards development and research, we have been working on ways to make our standards more accessible and easier to apply.
We recently launched a series of new free OHS Standards Support Tools, including a Respirator Selection Tool based on CAN/CSA-Z94.4-18, Selection, use, and care of respirators.

Why did CSA Group decide to develop a Respirator Selection Tool? How does it work? Who is it intended for?

This web-based tool was developed to assist users in translating the technical requirements of CAN/CSA-Z94.4-18, Selection, use, and care of respirators. It is intended to help qualified individuals responsible for selecting respirators to protect their workforce from bioaerosols.

Used in conjunction with CAN/CSA-Z94.4-18 and following the application of established OHS principles and an assessment of the specific exposure situations in their environment, the tool walks users through a series of steps to gather information focused on workplace environment, risk group, generation level and control (ventilation level) respirator recommendations.

Following this, the user is provided with respirator recommendations, and they are also given the option to receive a report for future reference.

Does CSA Group’s Worker and Public Safety team offer other tools?

Yes, CSA Group offers quite a few free Occupational Health and Safety Standards support tools. Our offering is robust including short self-paced learning modules, tracking sheets, infographics, templates, checklists, posters, printable forms, and handouts, etc. We currently have tools available for the following standards:

• CSA Z45001:19, Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use
• CSA Z1220-17 (R2021), First aid kits for the workplace
• CSA Z412-17, Office ergonomics – An application standard for workplace ergonomics
• CAN/CSA-Z1001-18 (R2022), Occupational health and safety training
• CSA Z1005:21, Workplace incident investigation
• CSA Z1008:21, Management of impairment in the workplace
• CSA Z1011:20, Work disability management system
• CSA Z1010-18, Management of work in extreme conditions

The tool focused on management of work in extreme conditions seems especially relevant at this time of year. As more workers head outside, are there specific topics that you recommend OHS professionals and employers refresh themselves on?

In general, the climate is seeing more extremes, be it extreme heat or cold, higher intensity wind, and storm events. With the warmer months approaching, more workers will be working outside, working alone, and possibly working in more remote locations.

As no work environment is static, it is important that employers focus on up-to-date hazard identification and elimination, and risk assessment and control. It can be dangerous to assume that the hazards have not changed since previous seasons. Our CSA Z1002:12 (R2022), Occupational health and safety – Hazard identification and elimination and risk assessment and control standard can be helpful for this.

I would also encourage employers to review CSA Z1010-18, Management of work in extreme conditions. The purpose of this standard is to address the application of OHS management systems to plans for work performed under heightened-risk conditions presented by extreme environmental temperatures, severe weather, low or high atmospheric pressure, and poor air quality (causing impairment of breathing or visibility).

In late 2022, CSA Group published a report focused on highlighting the experiences of Canadian women and PPE, which made quite a splash in the industry. Can Canada’s OHS community expect more on this topic from CSA Group in the future?

Publication of our research report, Canadian Women’s Experiences with Personal Protective Equipment in the Workplace was one step on a larger journey. CSA Group continues to have important conversations with key stakeholders (e.g., regulators, academic community, manufacturers) about the report recommendations, and potential next steps in moving forward towards solutions.

We are actively working with our committees to determine where changes can be made to CSA Group’s PPE standards and where evidence exists to support changes. We are also determining what additional research may need to be undertaken to answer key questions and address data gaps on a standard-by-standard basis.

How can someone stay up to speed with what your team is working on, including new publications and tool?

The best way to stay informed is to join CSA Communities and follow the OHS Community (https://community.csagroup.org/community/ohs). CSA Communities connect our members, stakeholders, and users of standards in an open, collaborative online environment.


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