The University at Buffalo, SUNY Occupational Safety and Health Training Project (UB OSH Training Project) produces highly qualified safety and health M.S. graduates to impact occupational safety and health (OSH) practice in NY, and beyond. For the past 2 funding cycles, many of our 24 trainee alumni have pursued OSH- related work and 3 have become OSHA compliance officers. Trainees within this Program participated in close to 100 OSH professional development activities and received specialized instruction through a unique industrial hygiene course that emphasized application of course materials through field work. Additionally, the project's staff has developed close relationships with the local ASSE Chapter and Buffalo OSHA Office. The current proposal seeks to expand and enhance the Program by combining a high quality, multidisciplinary education with safety-related research requirements, and applied practice through an internship experience. Master's level students from Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) will complete courses on OSH topics, including safety, ergonomics, industrial hygiene, and epidemiology, and will graduate with a concentration in OSH while obtaining their ISE degree. They will also complete OSHA certification training to expand their knowledge beyond traditional coursework. Further specialization will be received through the completion of a mentored thesis research project and a required internship provided in cooperation with the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers and the local New York State Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Trainees will gain work experience from the internship, preparing them to enter the OSH workforce upon graduation, and the research experience encourages OSH citizenship and life-long learning. Throughout the program, trainees will be encouraged to participate in development activities and to engage with local safety professionals at local, regional, and national meetings. After completing this program, trainees will enter the OSH profession prepared to meet industry needs and become leaders in the field. The Program benefits from the strong collaboration between the ISE Department, the Toxicology Research Center, the Atlantic OSHA Training Center, and the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Faculty members from each of these groups work closely with all of the trainees in the courses, during the internship, and while advising their thesis research. Faculty expertise in occupational safety, ergonomics, and toxicology will allow for trainees to specialize their research work in one of these areas. Areas of strength among the program faculty and theme areas for student projects include addressing occupational health disparities to protect vulnerable populations and promoting total worker health. Because evaluation is critical to ensuring the success of the training project and to continuously improve the student experience from one year to the next, surveys, interviews, course grades, research output, and career tracking of trainees will be used to evaluate the Program's effectiveness. In addition, feedback is elicited from an advisory board of local OSH professionals. We propose to increase the project's impact in the next funding cycle by: 1) requiring a more comprehensive and challenging OSH academic program to enhance trainee OSH skills, with specific content focused on addressing OSH issues relevant to vulnerable working populations, 2) requiring a formal internship program to provide trainees with valuable work experience, and 3) establishing new recruitment and career development activities to increase the number of trainees who stay in NY upon graduation. The UB OSH Training Project will continue to have a positive influence on OSH practice in NY and on the profession throughout the country.
This application proposes a continuation of our occupational safety and health (OSH) training program that focuses on strengthening the pool of qualified OSH professionals in New York State. The program aims to meet industry needs by providing multidisciplinary training that includes coursework, internship experiences, and research in safety, ergonomics, industrial hygiene, and epidemiology.