Occupational safety and environmental health specialists analyze workplaces to ensure the safety and health of workers and the environment. Specialists in the manufacturing sector examine lighting, equipment and ventilation as well as chemical and biological hazards that may be produced in the manufacturing process. In addition to on-the-job training, occupational health and safety specialists generally are required to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in occupational health and safety or a related scientific or engineering field. Coursework varies; however, most programs include general and safety coursework, risk management courses and cooperative education.
General Core Coursework
Occupational safety and environmental health managers in the manufacturing sector will begin their coursework with general subjects that provide a strong foundation in occupational safety. Courses in applied calculus, statistics and manufacturing production process provide managers with the knowledge to collect data and analyze trends related to safety in the manufacturing process. General business courses such as human resources management and business law provide an understanding of the economic impacts of safety planning and risk. In addition, coursework in first aid and emergency response provide a foundation for understanding and dealing with the effects of occupational hazards.
Understanding the key elements of safety under various conditions is essential for a safety manager in a manufacturing environment. Students learn how to apply codes and regulations to various safety situations while taking courses in fire safety, emergency response, construction safety and solid and hazardous waste management. In addition, students learn about how hazards in the workplace affect the human body while taking an industrial hygiene course.
Risk Management and Planning
The bulk of coursework for occupational and environmental health and safety specialists involves investigating accidents and using information to prevent future risk. Risk management involves the relationship between risk and the effects on costs for a business. Reducing the probability of accidents in the workplace will affect insurance, workers compensation and legal liabilities. Coursework in risk management and product safety and liability will give students the tools necessary to examine and create plans for reducing the possibility of accidents in the workplace.
Cooperative Education and Fieldwork
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers prefer to hire occupational and safety managers who have had experience in the field. As a result, most educational programs offer cooperative education or fieldwork opportunities for students. These experiences provide students with the opportunity to use their skills in real-world scenarios. Businesses and manufacturing companies utilize students to conduct research, evaluate facilities and develop safety plans. For example, a small manufacturing firm may use a student to evaluate the production line for safety and hazards to line workers. The student produces a report and creates a plan for reducing risks.
Amanda Schroeder holds a BS in Hospitality Management from Keuka College and a MSed in Vocational Education from SUNY Oswego. She has experience in restaurant management and is educated in school district business administration. Schroeder is currently teaching business and family and consumer science in New York State.