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Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) Concentration

General Description

Students with an interest in acquiring knowledge about occupational and environmental health and safety issues in the workplace and applying marketable skills in a broad range of work environments such as manufacturing, construction, health care, research and development, financial services, government, and academia among many others, should consider this concentration. The concentration also provides a foundation for professional certification in individual disciplines such as safety engineering, industrial hygiene and ergonomics among others. Should students desire to pursue graduate studies in occupational safety and health, the concentration uniquely positions them for acceptance into graduate school.

Nature of Work

Occupational and Environmetnal Health and Safety (OEHS) professionals help prevent harm to workers, property, the environment and the general public by analyzing work environments and by designing and implementing programs to prevent injury and illness. A variety of potential hazards are investigated including chemical, physical, biological, radiological and ergonomic. OEHS is a diverse discipline and some professionals practice within a specific discipline (e.g., safety engineering or industrial hygiene) while others practice comprehensively.

The responsibilities of OEHS professionals vary greatly by industry, workplace, types of occupational hazards present and the specific discipline (if any) practiced. But all OEHS disciplines involve the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control and communication of occupational hazards in the workplace. Once identified and evaluated, hazards are typically controlled by eliminating or reducing their presence (e.g., substituting a safer chemical for one more hazardous), implementing safe work procedures (e.g., using a mechanical lift vs. manually lifting), and utilizing personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, respirators and safety harnesses. A key component to success is communicating safety and health information to a variety of stakeholders including workers, supervisors, middle management, upper management and others.

Potential Employers

Due to OEHS being mandated by the Federal government through government entities such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) among others, there are a wide variety of workplaces that employ OEHS professionals. Among them include:

  • Academia
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Consulting
  • Entertainment
  • Financial Services
  • Government (federal, state & local)
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Research and Development
  • Service industries
  • Shipbuilding and repair
  • Transportation
  • Utilities
  • and others

Useful Skills

  • Technical: OEHS professionals work and interface with technology and equipment.
  • Analytical: OEHS professionals must be able to identify and effectively solve issues by applying scientific concepts and analytical skills.
  • Effective oral and written communication: OEHS professionals have to effectively communicate with a wide variety of employee groups.
  • Team member: OEHS professionals must be able to collaborate with others and build effective working relationships.
  • Attributed: Inquisitive, problem-solver, thorough, caring, dedicated, ethical, credible, trustworthy.

Getting Experience

The concentration encourages students to seek out internships in occupational and environmental health and safety to provide students with an opportunity to practice OEHS in a workplace setting during their academic studies. Several employers in the State of Connecticut offer OEHS internships, some paid, to qualified students.

Employment Opportunities

There are ample job opportunities in OEHS. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11% increase in employment in the 2008 - 2018 decade.1 Students graduating with an OEHS concentration are qualified for entry level positions in a wide variety of workplaces (see Potential Employers). For those students desiring to pursue a graduate degree in OEHS, the concentration uniquely positions them for acceptance into a graduate program.

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010 - 2011 Edition

Sample Job Titles

Because the OEHS discipline is wide in scope, there are numerous job titles that an OEHS concentration graduate might apply for:

  • Environmental, health and safety officer
  • Ergonomist
  • Industrial hygienist
  • Loss control specialist
  • Loss prevention specialist
  • Occupational health specialist
  • Occupational safety and health technician
  • Safety and health compliance officer
  • Safety coordinator
  • Safety engineer/specialist
  • Safety inspector

For additional information, please contact:

Assistant Professor Paul Bureau
Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety

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Department of Allied Health Sciences
College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources
358 Mansfield Road, Unit 1101
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1101
Telephone: (860) 486-2834
Fax: (860) 486-5375