Classroom curriculum for OSH students continues to evolve. The profession is more dynamic than ever and the global workplace presents emerging challenges.
This article examines the competencies that educators and OSH professionals deem necessary for global safety practice.
These competencies include hard (technical) and soft (nontechnical) categories. The ability to utilize and acquire communication skills, and to understand culture and customs specific to the area of practice were identified as key. Soft competencies were identified as vital to implementing and facilitating the technical aspects of OSH as well.
Globalization is changing the OSH profession and, ultimately, how OSH professionals and educators prepare the next generation of practitioners. Thus, the profession's stakeholders must constantly study and evaluate the global workplace to identify ways to improve performance and expand knowledge. One of ASSE's core values states, "We are dedicated to protecting people, property and the environment. We reach out globally, providing opportunities to collaborate with and engage anyone involved in safety, health and the environment" (ASSE, 2013).
Furthermore, the Society's vision is to be a "global" advocate and "premier leader for the safety, health and environmental professional and the profession" (ASSE, 2013). To achieve these two critical goals, OSH professionals and educators must continue to evaluate the competencies required by future practitioners.
Globalization demands that current educators and professionals identify the skills, knowledge and behaviors that current students will need to be globally competent in practicing OSH. Schulze (2007) argues that "the world is truly a small place, where the impact in one region is truly felt globally" (p. 1). He adds, "Although the globalization of economies has brought economic growth and new prosperity to many regions of the world, it has also brought with it increasing safety concerns" (p. 1).
Current occupational safety curricula and education have evolved from studies identifying the competencies or, more recently, outcomes needed for OSH professionals. These studies have used quantitative and qualitative methods to compare and evaluate the competencies desired by practitioners, employers and educators. Organizations such as ASSE, BCSP and ABET (formerly known as Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) have also provided input and recommendations on curricula, competencies and outcomes.