The field of occupational safety is in danger of disappearing or at least losing its identity. The gatekeeper for our programs has been and continues to be the American Society of Safety Engineers. ASSE began by establishing what was likely the first accreditation system for safety educators of its time. In the early days, accreditation was based on a number of factors including the qualifications of faculty and the courses being offered. Accreditation teams would visit a school to assure the courses offered were the same ones being reported in the report to the team.

Historic Safety Program Criteria

Initially accreditation teams measured student outcomes by student input. The assumption was made that if a student was exposed to the right information, upon graduation and the student would be ready for work. Early accreditation criteria included the following:

General humanities courses included the standard English, composition, history and sociology courses. Psychology was required.

Math included college algebra, three hours of introductory calculus, and a course in statistics.

Sciences required a choice of biology, physiology or anatomy. Of course any choice must also have contained a lab. Aside from learning about the body, students were also required to have two general chemistry and two general physics courses, each containing a lab. Originally the higher-level chemistry and physics course were required.

Along the way students were also expected to pick up courses in general management and business. At one point a computer course was added and accounting courses were looked on favorably. Students needed to learn to speak the language of business. Once these were completed and the student obtained a general background, he would be prepared to apply this information to his safety courses. Some programs refused to admit students until their junior year so they would have an opportunity to pick up the appropriate courses along the way. Upon movement into the safety program they would have strength of background and a rigor to prevent them to do well.

Safety Program

Upon movement into the upper division courses, students would then be programmed to develop backgrounds in a number of areas. These included courses in the following:

  • Introduction to Safety or Safety Fundamentals

  • Systems Safety

  • Fire Science

  • Industrial Hygiene to include toxicology

  • Product Safety and Consumer Protection

  • Safety Law or Legal Aspects of Safety

  • Environmental Science or Regulations (added later)

  • Safety and Health Program Management

  • Human Factors of Safety (sometimes known as Ergonomics)

  • Accident Investigation and Analysis

  • Education and Training for Safety

  • Measurement of Safe Performance

  • Technical Aspects of Safety or some variation of it to include:

  • Introduction to Industrial or Manufacturing Processes

  • Applied Mechanics for Safety

Some of the above courses could be combined but many programs chose to offer most, if not all of the above at the undergraduate level. In fact, our program at Murray State University swelled to nearly 140 hours of undergraduate coursework. We chose to also include EMT training and hazardous emergency response which added another nine hours.

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