Dr. Ron Dotson, Associate Professor, Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety
The jobs that this degree prepares someone for is really a wide variety. It’s not just being a safety professional at a plant or a construction site, you have to really start thinking about what does a safety professional really do. You look at talent and you look at skills. Some of the talent that really is required just from the job duties would be that someone has to be able to take initiative. They definitely have to be committed. I mean if it’s not going to be a mundane job, then you might be there till 10:00 at night dealing with an injured employee.
It’s different day-to-day. You have to be committed. You have to be able or willing to communicate with people. You have to have a large amount of integrity. Really, integrity being holding yourself to a standard or a code when other people aren’t looking. That’s what we’re trying to instill in a workforce and in managers in industry. If you can exhibit that yourself, then so we’re talking about talents which are really leadership characteristics here. Discipline, humility, of course, initiative again, commitment, those things are really big as far as a talent for someone that’s going into this field. I would argue that that’s big in any business-related field or anything that has a leadership thrust upon them.
Secondly, you have to look at the skills. When I say investigation skills are probably 90% of what a safety professional does, what I really mean is, is it’s hazard recognition. It’s hazard abatement. It’s being able to analyze and prioritize those hazards that are going to be presented to the workforce. It’s really problem solving and critical or analytical thinking. So really being that wide variety of problem solver is really what we mean with investigation skills. Of course, that includes how to handle involved persons, how to collect evidence, but how to solve the problem and say, “Well, we’re not going to allow this to happen again and within our organization, we’re going to share this information and this plan in a way that keeps our organization learning and growing for continuous improvement.”
It’s a really wide variety. It’s really business management. It’s really leadership. Would it prepare someone to be a public first responder? Absolutely. Would it prepare someone to go into the construction fields? Yes, it would. Would it prepare someone to go into general industry including schools and insurance? The answer is yes. Just about every job field would benefit from what we cover in our curriculum.