Reasons to Certify

Employers routinely rely on certificates because many people working in human resources do not know the details of some specific areas of practice. Employers understand candidates for employment who have a certificate from a reputable organization demonstrate competence through independent verification. They routinely require or request applicants hold these certificates.

Employees and applicants rely on certificates to demonstrate their relative value to a potential employer. When one’s knowledge and abilities in the safety field have been acquired from a number of different sources, a certificate provides one single source of validation.

Survey results support the accepted belief that professional safety certificates bring higher salaries to their holders as well as increased job opportunities and advancements. The median annual base salary of individuals holding the certificates in the safety field is about $28,000 greater than the median annual base salary of those in similar positions who held no certificate.

Additionally, your credibility as a trainer is clearly established with both students and current or prospective employers by having a certificate that includes a certificate as a trainer.

Levels of Certificates

NASP/IASP offers four levels of certificate:

  1. “Specialist” Level Certificate
  2. “Manager” Level
  3. “Director” Level Certificate
  4. “Master” Level Certificate

I. NASP/IASP Certified Trainers may issue NASP/IASP Diplomas and Pocket Cards
Your credibility as a trainer is clearly established with both your students and your employer by having an NASP/IASP training certificate. Only those trainers holding the CSM are authorized to request and issue NASP/IASP diplomas and pocket cards to their students for any course in which their CSM authorization allows or in which they hold an NASP/IASP technician level certificate, including those listed here, as well as Awareness level courses, including those listed here. Issuing a diploma or pocket card with the NASP logo and the heading “National Association of Safety Professionals” along with your signature and certificate number provides a high level of credibility to your courses. As an NASP/IASP authorized trainer, you bring a new and important dimension to your company’s “in-house” training. Your students place a higher value on their diplomas, and your employer values your training more. This also serves as a standard by which employers may judge the training an employee has received from another employer.

Trainers use their trainer area to request certificates for students who have completed courses. The diplomas and cards are printed by NASP with the heading of “National Association of Safety Professionals” and the NASP logo, unless the trainer requests an IASP certificate. Your students’ names, as well as the course name, are included on the certificate and card. The certificate includes your trainer certificate number and a blank for you to personally sign each student’s certificate. The certificates/cards cost $20 per student per course plus shipping and handling. If a trainer is teaching an NASP/IASP technician level certificate which he/she has successfully completed, there is an additional charge, depending on the specific course. Click here for details.

II. The Court’s Expert Witness Qualifications
If you find yourself in civil or criminal court after an employee injury, you will find the prosecution employing expert witnesses to claim your training or planning was somehow inappropriate or insufficient and therefore contributed to the death or injury. However, if you also qualify as a professional witness in that specific area, your credibility and testimony may be of equal stature to that of your opponent.

Whether or not you qualify as a professional witness in a certain topic area is completely within the discretion of the judge hearing the case. So, in order to determine how you could qualify as an expert witness, you must turn to the guidelines used by judges to decide whether or not to consider you as an expert witness. First, you should consider that you are much more likely to achieve expert witness status in a specific “task” area than in a broad and general category. For example, a judge would accept you as a Confined Space Rescue expert witness because of the proper Confined Space Rescue training and experience, not necessarily because you have a degree in industrial safety.

To begin a review of the guidelines used by judges to determine qualification of expert witnesses, one begin with Federal Rule of Evidence 702 which reads “if scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact…a witness qualified as an expert…may testify thereto in the form of an opinion.” The US Supreme Court ruled in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., that Rule 702 imposes a special obligation upon a trial judge to ensure that expert scientific testimony is not only relevant, but reliable.

In his treatise, Guidelines For The Expert Witness, Judge Timothy T. Daley tells us that “the expert witness has special knowledge or skill gained by education, training and experience. Specific education, training, related experience and current knowledge are essential ingredients to being certified as an expert witness. A precise curriculum vitae, available to the court before attendance, may lead to the uncontested declaration of the witness as an expert.”

The “American Institute for Expert Witnesses” says, “The fundamental characteristics needed by the Expert Witness are the abilities to be able to demonstrate both competence and credibility.”

III. ANSI Voluntary Instructor Qualifications
ANSI’s Voluntary Instructor Qualifications Z490.1 says that trainer criteria shall include subject matter expertise and training delivery skills. It specifically indicates the following criteria:

  • Trainers shall have an appropriate level of technical knowledge, skills, or abilities in the subjects they teach.
  • Trainers shall be competent in delivery techniques and methods appropriate to adult learning.
  • Trainers shall maintain their training skills by participating in continuing education, development programs, or experience related to their subject matter expertise & delivery skills.
  • The trainer shall apply adult learning principles appropriate to the target audience and the learning objectives.

IV. OSHA’s Instructor Qualifications
OSHA states, “Instructors should be deemed competent on the basis of previous documented experience in their area of instruction, successful completion of a “train-the-trainer” program specific to the topics they will teach, and an evaluation of instructional competence by the Training Director. Instructors should be required to maintain professional competency by participating in continuing education or professional development programs or by successfully completing an annual refresher course and having an annual review by the Training Director.”

We can break this paragraph down into the following elements:

  1. Instructors should be deemed competent
  2. Previous documented experience in their area of instruction
  3. Successful completion of a “train-the-trainer” program
  4. An evaluation of instructional competence by the Training Director
  5. Maintain professional competency by participating in:
  • continuing education
  • professional development programs
  • completing successfully an annual refresher course
  • having an annual review by the Training Director. Each required aspect of the instructor’s qualifications must be “documented.”
    With OSHA, the Courts, and most employers, “if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.”

OSHA defines “competent” as possessing the “skills, knowledge, experience, and judgment” to perform assigned tasks or activities satisfactorily. Documentation of the possession of the “skills, knowledge, experience, and judgment to perform assigned tasks or activities satisfactorily” means two things:

  1. “Skills, knowledge, and judgment” would be documented by the result of properly designed and administered tests. The credibility of the documentation increases with its objectivity, which is why third party testing and certified documentation is the most credible. This is provided as part of the awarding of your certificate.
  2. “Experience” can be documented in several ways. Documentation of experience may be a written statement from a competent person verifying your activity which constitutes the “experience” requirement, or documented proof of employment along with an official job description that indicates the particular experience was gained.

OSHA’s statement regarding instructor qualification also says, “Instructors should be deemed competent on the basis of previous documented experience in their area of instruction.” “Area of Instruction” means a specific topic or task, not a general category or what we will call a “course,” meaning something made up of different “topics.”

Some examples:

  • A non-safety example would be an English “course” which consists of “topics” like creative writing and poetry.
  • …so, in defining safety topics we could use “HAZWOPER” as an example of a “course” with “Spill and Leak Control,” “PPE,” “Incident Command,” and “Decontamination” as a few of the “topics.”
  • ….another example could be “Confined Space Entry and Rescue” as an example of the “course” with “Atmospheric Monitoring,” “PPE,” and “Technical Rescue” as a few of the “topics.”

In other words, taking a HAZWOPER course doesn’t meet the requirement for teaching a HAZWOPER course. Instead, the instructor must have “experience” and be “competent” in each topic he/she teaches within the HAZWOPER course. This “experience” can only result from actually performing the tasks the instructor is teaching. This “experience” must come from hands on experience in the application of the principles of the specific topic or task. For example, if you desire to teach lockout/tagout, you must first actually perform lockout/tagout well enough and often enough to become proficient at its proper performance. It is not necessary that this experience be in actual circumstances. It may, instead, be under simulated circumstances (training) under the review of a qualified person.

OSHA’s statement regarding instructor qualification further says, “Instructors should be deemed competent on the basis of …. successful completion of a “Train-the-Trainer” program specific to the topics they will teach.” Many courses are called train-the-trainer courses but only provide information needed by the trainer to present to his or her students. Many of these classes present excellent information but do not provide viable “how to train” information.

OSHA’s statement regarding instructor qualification requires an “evaluation of instructional competence by the Training Director.” The “Training Director” should preferably be someone certified to that level. In the absence of a certified Training Director, this requirement should be met by having someone with superior qualifications to your own, evaluate your training technique annually. The evaluation should include written documentation and a discussion of strengths and weaknesses with the evaluator.

OSHA’s statement regarding instructor qualification also requires that an instructor “should be required to maintain professional competency by: Participating in continuing education.” NASP/IASP courses and certificates aid in qualifying an individual to these various levels of competence and expertise.

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