the importance of continuing education

The Importance of Continuing Education

DF SafetyManagement and Leadership

Hello! It has been a while since I have written a DF Safety blog post personally.  It has been a very busy season for me!

One of the things keeping me occupied is a return to school. After a lot of thought and maybe just a little bit of humming and hawing, I decided to start on a second master’s degree. My first one, for people that have not known me for long, is in Theology. This time, I decided what I wanted was a Masters of Engineering. The program I chose was a Masters of Engineering with a concentration in Advanced Safety Engineering and Management from the University of Alabama, in Birmingham. It has a focus on process safety which is an area I felt that I would benefit from learning more about.  Most of us safety professionals are very well versed in personal safety (i.e. preventing personal injury) but not many of us are well versed on the process side. 

Let’s talk continuing education.  You just finished your education and you have your shiny new diploma, degree or maybe an NCSO certificate. Fantastic! Good for you! You have a great career ahead of you, but alas, you are certainly not finished with formal education. In fact, I would go so far as to say that continuing education is key to a safety professional.

There are a couple of really good reasons for this. One, is that continuing education allows you to refresh yourself and get familiar with new ideas and new practices. For example, when I went to university for the first time in 1995 we were taught that the Hierarchy of Controls had three elements; Engineering Controls, Administrative Controls and Personal Protective equipment. Anyone in the industry now would be able to tell you that we have five elements with Substitution and Elimination being added. The old 3×3 hazard matrices are pretty much gone, as well with most companies adopting a 3×3 or 5×5.

Another great reason to go back school is the opportunity to meet new colleagues and make new contacts! In my first class I met a very diverse group of people, most from the USA, but some from as far away as Vietnam! They represented the military, pharmaceutical production, construction and many other industries. These are people that I would not have had an opportunity to meet otherwise!

So, continuing education is key. You don’t have to go all out and do a Masters Degree! There are a lot of local courses at differing levels and you need to pick something that is right for you! In Edmonton, I would not hesitate to recommend you have a look to the Alberta Construction Safety Association, the OHS Certificate/Diploma Program or NAIT’s B-Tech Program.  While the B-Tech is not technically a safety program, there are a number of very good safety and environmental courses within it. I took Applied Research Methods from that program a few years ago and it helped me immensely when completing my first Masters! 

That’s all for today! If you would like to receive more news about health and safety, subscribe to our newsletter. Good luck and happy studying!

Dave Ferro