WVU Extension Safety and Health honors graduates of Certified Safety Trainer and Specialist programs

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University Extension Safety and Health hosted a graduation ceremony to honor students who completed the Certified Safety Trainer and the Certified Safety Specialist programs. WVU Extension Safety and Health has been a leader in providing professional continuing education courses since 1994, serving as the lead organization in the National Resource Center, an OSHA Training Institute Education Center, one of 27 in the United States.

The Certified Safety Specialist program is for students seeking to enhance their education in occupational safety and health. The Certified Safety Trainer program is an add-on to the Certified Safety Specialist program, allowing students to teach OSHA classes upon completion and educate others on workplace hazards. This program makes an individual a valuable asset to an organization seeking to train many employees.

“Educating oneself on occupational safety and health hazards is an altruistic endeavor,” said Amanda Mason, assistant director, NRC-WVU OSHA Training Institute Education Center. “Ultimately, our students are trying to enter a career field that makes them responsible for the health and well-being of others. Each course offered is geared toward addressing hazards specific to industrial workplace environments. Individuals with continued education through our certificate programs would serve as valuable assets to any organization seeking to promote workplace safety and health.”

A benefit to taking courses through WVU Extension’s OSHA Training Institute Education Center is the opportunity to receive microcredentials, also known as digital badges. These are a verifiable representation of the training received. Students that receive a microcredential also receive an electronic badge that they can add to their LinkedIn profile, embed in their resume, or use in their email signature. WVU represents one of only a handful of OSHA Education Centers that issue microcredentials and badges.

“WVU Extension Safety and Health’s advancement in offering microcredentials for courses further increases the connection, visibility and engagement between industry and the University,” said Tiffany Rice, director, NRC-WVU OSHA Training Institute Education Center.

Bethany Howerton, a recent graduate of both programs, has been working as a miner’s health and safety trainer for 14 years. She attended two of Safety and Health’s OSHA courses and realized the benefit of furthering her knowledge and experience with OSHA standards. During the course, she learned about the certificate programs and immediately enrolled in both programs.

“The courses in both certificate programs were comprehensive, covering topics like hazard identification, emergency preparedness, workplace ergonomics and more,” Howerton said. “My knowledge and understanding of workplace safety grew exponentially. The WVU Extension Safety and Health instructors’ depth of knowledge and ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and understandable manner made a significant difference in my understanding of the material. My journey to become an OSHA Outreach Trainer was marked by education, experience, dedication and a genuine commitment to making workplaces safer.”

Students can choose between four industry tracks – general industry, construction, maritime, or oil and gas. The track chosen will dictate the classes a student takes as each track has different mandatory and elective course requirements. To graduate from the programs, students must complete at least 150 hours of training.

“Students who take our courses are better equipped to find jobs and excel in their careers,” Mason said. “A graduate reached out to let us know that they had received an interview for two jobs, and they credited the Certified Safety Specialist program for helping them get those interviews. We pride ourselves on providing our students with the skills and knowledge that they need to land a job and excel in the safety profession.”

Both certificate programs can help improve the work of new and seasoned employees. For new employees, the classes offer a unique chance to gain knowledge on how to identify and mitigate hazards that the individual may not have previously experienced, explained Mason. For seasoned employees, these classes offer a unique chance to refresh one’s knowledge on mitigation techniques associated with a particular hazard or on new technology and innovation surrounding mitigation techniques.

WVU Extension Safety and Health continues to expand the non-traditional student population of WVU by reaching into the workforce community and providing valuable career-advancing education for workers that impacts the lives and livelihoods of West Virginians and beyond, Rice explained.

“For me, the highlight of the graduation was watching students accept their certificates with their families,” Mason said. “When we called the student to the front of the room, we also invited their families up to take a photo with them when they received their plaque. Workplace safety is about ensuring that every employee returns home at the end of the day to their families. I was happy that we could symbolize this ideal, a family safely reunited, during graduation.”

The graduation ceremony honored 50 students that graduated from both programs during the last four years.

The Certified Safety Specialist program is just one of many types of workforce training available. WVU Extension Safety and Health offers trainings and programs to help individuals lead safe, prosperous lives – including more than 40 OSHA courses covering everything from basic workplace safety to specialized safety trainings, as well as health care continuing education opportunities through the Shirley M. Kimble Training Center.

To learn more about what WVU Extension Safety and Health offers, visit WVU Extension Safety and Health.

If you want to learn about WVU Extension, visit WVU Extension or follow @WVUExtension on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

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