In My Own Words - Graham Nelson, CRSP

Graham Nelson, CRSP

I was 16 years old working at a retail establishment. I was asked to perform what I ultimately deemed to be an unsafe task. I had no idea what I was doing; more worrisome at the time was how I was going to explain this situation to my supervisor. But as a young worker and in my first “real job”, the one thing that stuck with me was what my dad asked me when I first accepted the employment offer…”do they have a health and safety program”? 

My less-than-inspiring answer: “Uh, sure, I guess.”

What I failed to appreciate at the time was that my dad – after what seemed like endless studying and exam preparation – had just recently obtained his CRSP; so in retrospect, he knew exactly what he was talking about. 

His question resurfaced in my mind when I was faced with the unsafe work task. I thought to myself “is this really something that I should be doing”? Something just didn’t feel right about it so, with limited understanding about the process I was embarking on, I decided that I wasn’t going to put myself at risk. There. I had just refused work that I legitimately (and still to this day) believed was unsafe. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back at the 13 years as a health and safety professional, that was the point when it all just clicked. I ended up pursuing the CRSP certification as a result of my personal experience as a young worker – and a little nudging from my dad. 

Like most high-school students, I began thinking about possible career paths. I would inevitably come back to my own personal experience and decided that I was going to make a difference. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that a CRSP was highly desired and valuable to employers – just look at almost any job posting for a health and safety position. A CRSP means that you’re qualifications have been independently assessed by an accredited, certifying body and that you’ve demonstrated you’re knowledge through successful challenge of a difficult exam; it’s little wonder why it’s so highly valued.

Knowing the process ahead of me at the time, I set my goals, prepped for the exam and sent the application package as soon as I met the eligibility criteria. Then, I prepped even more for the exam. The field is so vast and extensive that no matter how much you think you’re ready, you had better study more. 

I wrote during the first examination window in 2010 and, upon receipt of the confirmation letter, knew exactly what I had accomplished. Throughout the years since, I’ve continued to volunteer with the Board in various capacities simply because I believe so much in the certification and its importance. Simply put, the CRSP is the standard for health and safety professionals in Canada. 

I’m a first-career, second-generation CRSP – and I’m very proud to call myself a Canadian Registered Safety Professional. 

Graham Nelson, CRSP
University of Ottawa,
Ottawa, Ontario

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