DES PLAINES, Ill. — In an age where academic degrees may be literally printed from home, some experts are calling for the development of minimum requirements to accredit academic programs in the occupational safety and health (OSH) profession.

An outcomes-based accreditation can assure a more effective transfer of the required knowledge, skills, or abilities/behaviors for students, faculty, academic programs, and institutions, write authors James Ramsay, Elbert Sorrell, and Wayne Hartz in the February issue of the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE’s) Professional Safety Journal.

While program-level accreditation currently exists for OSH programs, it has not been widely adopted. In fact, the Accreditation Board accredits only 11 out of the estimated 350 OSH academic programs for Engineering and Technology. Without a commonly accepted set of educational outcomes, ASSE believes the discipline is at risk of dilution.

“In short, employers expect OSH practitioners to have certain minimum competencies, either through academic degrees or from specialized board certifications such as the Certified Safety Professional offered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, or an alternative such as the Certified Industrial Hygiene offered by the Accreditation Board of Industrial Hygiene,” the authors write.

Like professional degrees, the authors urge that it’s time for the occupational safety and health profession to mature and take steps to ensure its programming is meeting the needs of today’s businesses.

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Publication date: 2/16/2015

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