OHS Canada Magazine

It’s time to elevate safety: Change the name of CSSE

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May 15, 2023
By Todd Humber

Health & Safety CSSE editor pick Editorial

Photo: moodboard/Adobe Stock

Safety needs a seat at the boardroom table. And before HR puts up their hands, let me rephrase that: Safety needs its own seat at the table.

No offence to our human resources friends, but the CHRO is already wearing enough hats — and they’re all pretty critical. The safety one should be removed and passed over to the professional sitting in the shiny new chair you just rolled up to the table.

A chief safety officer (CSO) is still a relatively scarce role. To put some random numbers around it, a Google search on that term brings up 165,000 results. For CHRO, that number is more than four million. CFO? 56.8 million.

Workplace health and safety needs a senior level voice to champion it, someone with the word “safety” engraved on their office door. It’s the same debate that enveloped the HR world about 20 years ago when it struggled for respect and recognition.

But occupational health and safety also needs a bit of a rebrand. The Canadian Society for Safety Engineering (CSSE) is currently kicking around the idea of a name change. It’s time. CSSE has always been a confusing moniker, especially for those outside the profession — is it for engineers? Is it about the business of engineering safety? Does it have anything to with workplaces?


A name change would go a long way to giving the profession more profile. The moniker it’s reportedly considering is Health and Safety Professionals Canada (HSPC). Perfect — that eliminates any confusion on its mandate.

South of the border, the similarly named American Society of Safety Engineering (ASSE) changed its name in 2017. It opted for a more subtle one-word shift, settling on American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP). It’s a good moniker, but HSPC is better. Why?

The word “health.” Modern safety professionals have embraced total wellness when it comes to keeping workers safe. It wasn’t that long ago mental health was laughed out of the room.

“I can help you not to break your arm or your back, but what’s going on in your head is really not my concern,” says my fictional safety professional from the 1970s. But now, there is a real understanding that everything a worker brings with them to your worksite can impact their safety and that of colleagues.

Distracted employees are not safe employees. Adding the word “health” into the name of a major association recognizes the important role health plays in ensuring everyone goes home safe at the end of the day.

The profession has embraced that change, and it’s time for associations to rebrand and reflect that reality. Is there a better name than Health and Safety Professionals Canada? It’s tough to think of one.

It’s simple, straightforward and won’t confuse anyone.

Turning to another topic, I’d like to extend my thanks to Sam Altobello and the team at Burnbrae Farms for opening their doors to OHS Canada. Sam reached out, unprompted, to tell his story. (Stay tuned! It will be live on OHSCanada.com next week and is the cover story for the Spring 2023 print and digital edition.)

The team gave us access, at every level, and made people available to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to workplace safety. It’s this type of co-operation and sharing that helps us all learn and make this profession remarkable.


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