OHS Canada Magazine

Q&A: What trends are shaping standards development?

CSA Group president and CEO opens up about organization’s mission, vision


CSA Group’s safety certification marks appear on more than a billion products worldwide. (Courtesy of CSA Group)

Although the CSA mark is familiar to many Canadians, less is known about the organization behind it.

CSA Group is a global organization, headquartered in Toronto, with offices and labs around the world.

It is comprised of two separate organizations: the Canadian Standards Association, which develops standards across a wide range of sectors; and a global commercial subsidiary organization which engages in testing, inspection and certification to ensure that products are safe and efficient.

These organizations work together to realize the CSA Group’s mission of improving health, safety and the environment.   

David Weinstein, president and CEO, joined CSA Group in 2015.

David Weinstein, president and CEO, joined CSA Group in 2015.

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Under his leadership, the organization has undertaken many transformative projects, including establishing a world-class, global health, safety, security and environment (HSSE) program.

Below, Weinstein shares more about his role, CSA Group’s response to COVID-19, and what’s next for the 102-year-old organization.

Can you tell us more about your role at CSA Group?

As president and CEO, I am responsible for the leadership and strategic direction of CSA Group. This includes many of the responsibilities that you might expect, like working with our executive leadership team to prioritize programs and initiatives, optimizing use of our resources, and ensuring that we’re attracting and retaining strong global talent.

The most fulfilling role that I play is upholding the organization’s mission.

We are a purpose-driven organization, committed to social good, safety and sustainability. This mission is at the core of everything that we do, and is a point of pride and motivation for our employees and stakeholders.

How did CSA Groups approach to health and safety change with the pandemic?

CSA Group had a safety-first culture even before the pandemic, so we were well prepared to face the many challenges that have come our way.

We responded to COVID-19 just as we would have responded to any other safety hazard, quickly mobilizing our well-established global HSSE policies and processes.

One of the first decisions we made was to allow most employees to work from home, while creating safe working conditions for the essential employees in our labs.

Although we had HSSE policies and processes in place, remaining nimble and listening to employees to understand their needs has been crucial.

As the pandemic endured, we realized the need to expand our view of safety to include mental wellness. We quickly introduced new support programs to help employees navigate through their new reality, and we continue to strengthen these offerings.

Mobilizing our safety-first philosophy extended beyond CSA Group employees to our over 10,000 volunteer members who develop standards with us.

Early in the pandemic, we pivoted to virtual committee meetings only, allowing us to continue our important standards development work while keeping our members safe.

To eliminate barriers to access and encourage the use of relevant standards, we also made health-care standards available for no-fee view access.

What are the health and safety trends that are impacting your organization?

With locations around the world, determining how to best tackle COVID-19 on a global scale will continue to be a focus.

Although many of our employees can work remotely, we also have essential, on-site employees who work in our labs.

Managing the health and safety of these employees and ensuring consistency, while also being mindful of the local public health policies in the many local jurisdictions that we operate, has and will continue to be a priority.

CSA Group continues to attract and retain talented employees. Over the last two years, most of our new hires were onboarded virtually. Given that health and safety is intrinsic to everything that we do, offering exceptional training remotely to new employees — and existing ones — will be a goal and area that we continue to invest in.

As the pandemic lingers, we will continue to put emphasis on the mental health of our employees by offering a range of mental health support programs.

How closely do you work with the safety professionals in your organization?

Creating a safety-first culture at CSA Group was a personal and professional goal when I joined in 2015, but implementing this program has truly been a collaborative effort.

First and foremost, I dedicate a portion of my weekly meetings with our leadership team to HSSE, and have mandated that the executive leadership team does the same.

Personally, I connect with our HSSE team weekly, and receive updates from them every day. We’ve also leveraged technology to be sure that our entire leadership team receives alerts when an injury occurs and have protocols in place to ensure a swift and appropriate response.

I think it’s important that we not only say that we’re committed to creating a strong safety culture, but that we share measurable goals.

A few years ago, we set a goal to achieve global, multi-site registration to ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 in three years, which we did successfully. Although this timeline was ambitious, having a goal kept us motivated, focused and accountable.

How has CSA Group contributed to Canadas COVID-19 response efforts?

The combination of a lack of Canadian standards and domestic testing capability created a health and safety risk for Canadians. CSA Group was well positioned to help Canada address this risk. 

In the early stages of the pandemic, we established an accredited, special-purpose laboratory to test and certify medical-grade PPE, which was a first in Canada at that time.

The establishment of this lab helped provide Canadians with greater peace of mind by providing access to fully tested PPE, made in Canada.

CSA Group also published timely research on Canada’s pandemic response products ecosystem and led the development of a new, made-in-Canada standard for the performance of filtering respirators, released in late 2021.

The standard, which will soon replace Health Canada’s interim guidance implemented at the beginning of the pandemic, builds on the strength of NIOSH requirements while addressing the specific needs of front-line workers brought to light during the pandemic.

I am so proud of the work we did to quickly mobilize to protect Canadians, while also supporting the growing population of domestic PPE manufacturers.

Moving into 2022, we’ll continue to strengthen our PPE testing and certification offerings, lead the development of much-needed standards and invest in research to inform future standards.

What can Canada’s OHS community expect from CSA Group in 2022?

Not surprisingly, 2022 is shaping up to be a busy one for CSA Group.

Our OHS standards team is updating existing standards, while also forging ahead on the development of new ones, including standards focused on hearing loss prevention, high visibility apparel, fall protection and working at heights.

We also continue to invest in research to investigate and identify new and emerging issues that will help to inform the development of future standards.

Some of the research underway and expected to be published in 2022 includes: an investigation of the challenges Canadian women face regarding work-mandated PPE; an investigation of leading practices from COVID-19 on safeguarding psychological health and safety in the workplace; and examination of first-aid skills retention.

How can OHS professionals stay informed and become involved in CSA Groups activities?

I invite OHS professionals to join CSA Group’s collaborative space on our Communities platform (community.csagroup.org) to learn about our standards, pose questions and engage in standards-related discussions.

We intend to continue to strengthen and grow our suite of resources in 2022.

CSA Group standards referenced in OHS legislation, health-care related standards, and our research reports are available for no fee.

For those looking to become more actively involved, we always welcome new members and encourage all Canadians to consider applying to join a CSA Group standards development committee or participate in the public review and comment period of draft standards.

CSA Group is a global organization dedicated to safety, social good and sustainability. It is a leader in standards development and in testing, inspection and certification around the world, including Canada, the U.S.A., Europe and Asia. CSA Group’s mandate is to hold the future to a higher standard.