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Friday, March 7, 2014
by: Rene Abadie
GET A GRIP – Southeastern Louisiana University Associate Professor of Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Lu Yuan, right, instructs student Keaton Northington of Covington on the use of a hydraulic hand dynamometer while fellow student Alyssa Ybarra of Slidell records data. Both students are majoring in Occupational Safety, Health and Environment at Southeastern, which is instituting several new minor concentrations in the field.
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University is expanding its occupational, safety, health and environment program to include three new minors designed to complement existing degree programs and help meet employment needs in the area's workforce.
Sebastian van Delden, head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology, said the new programs will be implemented in the fall 2014 semester.
The programs include minors in diverse areas of the OSH&E discipline: safety, health and environment.
Van Delden explained the safety minor includes coursework on laws and regulations, construction and chemical safety, product and system safety, fire protection and prevention and behavioral aspects of safety. The health minor addresses ergonomics, industrial hygiene and toxicology, while the environment program covers environmental laws and regulations, hazardous materials management and pollution control technology.
Southeastern's OSH&E bachelor's degree is one of only a few of its kind in the nation. The program is accredited by the Applied Science Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc., the international accrediting agency for these programs. Initiated in 2004 from a two-year associate degree program, the OSH&E degree is designed to meet the needs of industries in the region for properly prepared professionals to work in the increasingly complex field of safety and health in the industrial setting, van Delden said.
Lu Yuan, associate professor and OSH&E program coordinator, said students who graduate with the OSH&E degree automatically earn the designation of Graduate Safety Practitioner, a gateway to earning the Certified Safety Professional certification.
"OSH&E graduates are in high demand in south Louisiana because of our highly industrialized business sector," Yuan explained. "Last year, 14 of our 15 graduates secured employment in their field of study within one month of graduation."
Southeastern graduate Shaine Babineaux, associate safety engineer with Valero Energy Corporation, said the program provided him with the resources he needed to develop aptitude in the safety field.
"The knowledge I gained from this program is essential to my current job position and has helped in the development of my professional career," Babineaux added.
"The OSH&E program is growing faster than we originally predicted, with 120 students currently in the major," van Delden added. "The demand for these graduates will persist for the foreseeable future, and Southeastern is poised to fill this crucial workforce demand of the industries in the region.
The program has caught the eye of industry professionals trying to keep up with the demand for qualified employees.
"Louisiana is currently experiencing the biggest industrial building boon since the 1980s, and there is a huge need for educated safety personnel to help keep workers safe," said Lance Roux, a certified safety professional and principal consultant at SafetyPro Resources, a Baton Rouge-based consulting firm. "Southeastern offering a minor in OSH&E is an excellent way to help develop safety expertise in our state. It's a win-win for both students and industry."
Southeastern students see the minors as a valuable addition to the degree they are working toward in the field of industrial technology.
"When I learned of these new programs, I got really interested in enhancing my skill set with additional course work in safety," said George Reeves, senior industrial technology student from Tickfaw. "I feel that by adding this minor to my studies in IT, I will have greater opportunities when I graduate and start looking for a career."