I often have employees of utility companies call and ask me about the Certified Utility Safety Professional (CUSP) program. The common question is, “Do I really need this?” And my answer is, if your utility company doesn’t require an accreditation of some type, then no you don’t need it and you are good to go.
But as utility safety professionals we all need to ask ourselves- “Do I have all the knowledge needed to be all I can be in this industry?” From my point of view, the answer is no.
I worked for the same company for years and didn’t pay a lot of attention to what was going on in the industry. I was concentrating on just what I needed to do for my company and to meet my personal goals. I thought I had enough knowledge and experience to get the job done just fine. After I retired and opened up my own safety consulting company I discovered differently.
What is the CUSP Exam?
In the late 1990s I had the opportunity to assist the National Safety Council’s Utility Division committee members in developing an exam and endorsements for the former Certified Utility Safety Administrator (CUSA). At the time, there was no other accreditation program for electric utility safety and health. But the CUSA program failed to sustain over the years.
The Certified Safety Professional (CSP) was the only other opportunity for safety professionals. The CSP is a huge asset to employees but the truth is, in the utility world, safety professionals needed something more suited for the work they do. The CUSP prepares and directs the safety employees and trainers in the subjects, standards and work practices that occur in the utility industry every day. When companies hire safety professionals today, a CSP or degree in safety is usually required along with experience in the field. In the future the committee believes that the CUSP and a number of years in the field will be the accreditation of choice when hiring for utility positions.
The past few years I have had the distinct privilege and pleasure of working with some of the best and most experienced safety consultants in the industry- those at Incident Prevention magazine. This group, along with Carla Housh, President & CEO of Utility Business Media, has developed the Certified Utility Safety Professional program that will one day hopefully be recognized as an international accreditation and standard for utility safety professionals. We have taken the knowledge and experience of this committee, as well as feedback from others, to develop what is believed to be the minimum requirements to form the solid foundation of today’s safety and health professional for the electric and telecommunication industries.
Why Take The CUSP Exam?
The CUSP exam team has developed, and continues to develop, the “prep, review and training” materials for preparation in taking the exam. The committee discovered then that many in the safety and health fields would struggle with the exam because of the diverse materials that were thought to be the foundation of the safety professional. In the “real world” many of the field personnel in the safety and health professionals were home grown and very good at “how” to do the job, but struggled with the rules of “why” we do what we do.
My advice to the potential candidates that are considering taking the exam is this: don’t rely totally on the fact that you hold a safety and health position. Understand that there is much more to the job of a safety and health professional than just knowing the work and how you have performed the work in the past. A broad base of understanding is required to grow the safety professional and assist employees in incident prevention.
Characteristics of the Exam
Since the fall of 2010 I have instructed the review and prep for many CUSP classes. I have known, or at least met, many of the class members through work or committees for different organizations. I know the individuals well enough to appreciate their experience and understanding of how electric utilities work. A high percentage of them have passed the exam, but some struggled with parts of it.
Although they don’t all work exactly the same, all utilities perform certain similar tasks, and they have to adhere to the same regulatory standards. The very objective portions of the exam, such as the standards review, might be the most familiar to those taking the exam. Other areas on the exam dealing with leadership, hazard identification, controlling risks, and human performance seemed to be difficult subjects to relate to for many exam-takers. Safety and health employees should use the study guide at the Utility Safety & Ops Leadership Network (USOLN) web site and review this material.
However, there is more to the exam than what is covered in the review and preparation materials. Most employees that have completed a formal leadership development course in their careers seemed to fair better since they have had to deal with employees, which is a huge part of being a safety leader.
I have a sense that most safety and health professionals and leaders are comfortable in the position they hold and are fulfilling what their company expects out of their position. The difficulty of completing the exam is fulfilling all competencies required as has been determined to pass the CUSP. Not all safety and health professionals have been a supervisor in the past. We all arrive at our positions through different career paths. The fact is we have to be in the position for a long time to ever grasp all we need to know. It is a never ending process.
I don’t believe a safety and health professional has to have a CUSP to hold their position. But, I guarantee you that if you study, take the exam and pass it, you will be a better safety and health professional.
Video retrieved from the Utility Safety & Ops Leadership Network website.
Access your GHS Ready Kit resources:
- The 7 Deadly Sins of Switching to GHS
- Understanding The New HazCom Standard Under GHS
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- New Hazard Classification Info Sheet
- Safety Data Sheets Under GHS
- GHS Transition Training Lesson
Important Upcoming Deadlines
Mark your calendars with OSHA’s compliance deadlines for phasing in the Globally Harmonized System:
JUNE 1, 2015 – STANDARD COMPLIANCE
Who: Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
All parties must be in compliance, with the exception of distributors who will be given until December 1, 2015 to ensure all containers in their supply chain are labeled in accordance with the HazCom Standard. All hazardous chemicals shipped after June 1, 2015, must be labeled with specified elements including pictograms, signal words, and hazard and precautionary statements.
Manufacturers, importers and distributors have the option of using the new labeling system before June 1, 2015.
JUNE 1, 2016 – UPDATES REFRESHER
Any updates to workplace labeling and hazard communication training programs must be completed by employers, as well as provide additional employee training for any newly identified physical or health hazards.
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Here at Vivid Learning Systems we have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving- from family and health to indoor toilets and the Seahawks’ winning season. But one thing we are especially thankful for is our community. So to show our thanks and give back to the community we call home we’ve joined forces with our sister company, Imageworks, to donate to our local food bank, 2nd Harvest. Take a look:
NEW SPANISH TITLES
Hand and Power Tool Safety
The purpose of this course is to train employees whose work includes the use of hand and portable power tools to recognize the potential hazards associated with these tools’ use and demonstrate proper procedures which will enable them to avoid workplace accidents.
This course covers:
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NEW COURSE ENHANCEMENTS
Basic Respiratory Protection
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