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SAFE certification indicates a company has developed and maintains an occupational health and safety program that meets specific standards set forth by the BCFSC, and successfully completes regular reviews or audits of their program. In many cases, SAFE certification is required by licensees or companies tendering contracts for silviculture and forestry operations.

SAFE certification standards include requirements related to the effective planning of work, with consideration of hazards to workers, implementation of proper preventive or protective measures, development of appropriate OHS policies and procedures, and formal relationships with contractors and subcontractors that ensure health and safety requirements are integral to which companies are hired to conduct work.

Standards for SAFE certified companies also cover safe work performance, provision of appropriate first aid resources, and systems for checking to ensure that workers are trained for their job, verified as competent in their tasks, and monitored to ensure compliance with rules and regulations.

SAFE certified companies are also required to have systems for pursuing continual improvement through monitoring safety performance and having systems to ensure that adjustments are made to OHS programs based on input gathered from workers and careful investigation and monitoring of incidents and injuries.

There are different types of SAFE certification, with large companies (averaging more than 20 employees) following the BASE audit standard, smaller companies following the SEBASE or ISEBASE standard, and self-employed individuals following the IOO standard.

SAFE Companies maintain their certification by completing annual safety audits, which include external audits by objective auditors from outside the company with special training and oversight from the BCFSC, and internal audits completed by trained company personnel. Larger companies tend to undergo more intensive audits to ensure that their OHS programs meet the demands of the complexity of their operations, but even smaller companies have their audits reviewed by external parties and are subject to periodic external reviews as part of the SAFE Companies quality assurance process.

SAFE certified companies may also be subject to special audits directed by the BCFSC or by WorkSafeBC to ensure the audit process is accurately assessing the company and to verify that appropriate systems are in place following a significant safety incident or failure to comply with regulations.

Companies can lose their SAFE certification if they fail to successfully complete their annual audit if they fail to abide by the terms and conditions of the SAFE certification program, or if they engage in conduct that could bring the SAFE Companies program into disrepute. Companies that successfully maintain SAFE Certification may be eligible for a Certificate of Recognition (COR) from WorkSafeBC that provides them with a discount on their insurance.

The BCFSC is referred to as a certifying partner, meaning that they have a contractual agreement with WorkSafeBC to guide employers toward developing effective health and safety programs and achieving their COR. A similar COR program is also followed in Alberta, with certifying partners that include the Alberta Forest Products Association. Companies in different industries may use different certifying partners to achieve certification and COR, such as AgSafe for farming employers in BC and Energy Safety Canada for oil and gas industries in Alberta.


What Does it Mean to be 'SAFE Certified'?

In BC, most forestry companies are certified under the SAFE Companies Program administered by the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC).

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