Magazine article Occupational Hazards

More Management, Less Calculus

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

More Management, Less Calculus

Article excerpt

Top managers want safety and health professionals who are "familiar with what constitutes 'sound business practices.'"

Safety and health professionals would like to know more about international safety, industrial management and accounting, and a lot less about calculus, according to an Occupational Hazards survey.

The "Academic Challenge" survey, published in the May issue, was designed to gauge the effectiveness of academic programs in preparing people to work in the safety and health field.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said their educational experiences were "excellent" preparation for working in the field, while 33 percent rated their preparation as "good." The other 14 percent rated it as "fair." Despite the overall positive outlook, respondents suggested changes in academic programs.

The strongest response was a backlash against calculus, a required course in accredited safety programs and many science-related curriculums. Forty-five percent of survey respondents said calculus was the one course that should be eliminated from bachelor's degree programs in safety.

"I used calculus twice in 30 years," wrote one safety engineer for a multinational company. The safety manager at a small Pennsylvania company added, "I have never used calculus on the job or on the CSP certification exam. If you don't use it, you lose it, and I did."

Respondents had little complaint about other required courses such as Chemistry II, Fire Prevention, Written Composition, System Safety, Public Speaking and Physics II. In fact, 36 percent did not want to see any courses eliminated. A semiretired consultant argued that "all are important for a well-rounded safety/health professional."

Safety and health professionals recommended additional courses to include in the safety curriculum. Thirty-four percent said an industrial management course should be mandatory. Accounting/Finance and Business Writing each got 20 percent of the vote.

Such nonscientific courses are "essential for communicating with managers in their language," according to a safety manager in Georgia. One health, safety and environmental manager in Oregon told Occupational Hazards that he had 32 credit hours of business management and administration courses. "'Business people' do the hiring, and they want to know or feel that the safety person is familiar with what constitutes 'sound business practices,'" he said.

When asked about international safety, three out of four respondents said it deserves more attention in academic programs. …

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