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WVU Extension Safety and Health honors graduates of safety training programs

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University (WVU) Extension Safety and Health recently hosted a graduation ceremony to honor students who completed the Certified Safety Trainer and Certified Safety Specialist programs.

Since 1994, WVU Extension Safety and Health has been a leader in providing professional continuing education courses. It serves as the lead organization in the National Resource Center, an OSHA Training Institute Education Center, one of only 27 in the U.S.

The Certified Safety Specialist program aims to enhance education in occupational safety and health. The Certified Safety Trainer program, an add-on, allows graduates to teach OSHA classes and educate others on workplace hazards.

“Educating oneself on occupational safety and health hazards is an altruistic endeavor,” Amanda Mason, assistant director of the NRC-WVU OSHA Training Institute Education Center, said. “Ultimately, our students are trying to enter a career field that makes them responsible for the health and well-being of others. Each course offered is geared toward addressing hazards specific to industrial workplace environments. Individuals with continued education through our certificate programs would serve as valuable assets to any organization seeking to promote workplace safety and health.”

One benefit of WVU Extension’s courses in OSHA Training Institute Education Center is the opportunity for students to earn microcredentials, or digital badges, which verify the training received. These badges can be added to LinkedIn profiles, resumes, or email signatures. WVU is one of the few OSHA Education Centers offering microcredentials and badges.

“WVU Extension Safety and Health’s advancement in offering microcredentials for courses further increases the connection, visibility, and engagement between industry and the University,” said Tiffany Rice, director of the NRC-WVU OSHA Training Institute Education Center.

Bethany Howerton, a recent graduate, has worked as a miner’s health and safety trainer for 14 years. She attended Safety and Health’s OSHA courses and realized the benefits of extending her knowledge with OSHA standards. She subsequently enrolled in both certificate programs.

“The courses in both certificate programs were comprehensive, covering topics like hazard identification, emergency preparedness, workplace ergonomics, and more,” Howerton said. “The WVU Extension Safety and Health instructors’ depth of knowledge and ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and understandable manner made a significant difference in my understanding of the material. My journey to become an OSHA Outreach Trainer was marked by education, experience, dedication, and a genuine commitment to making workplaces safer.”

Students can choose between four industry tracks: general industry, construction, maritime, or oil and gas. Each track has different mandatory and elective courses. To graduate, students must complete at least 150 hours of training.

“Students who take our courses are better equipped to find jobs and excel in their careers,” Mason said. “A graduate reached out to let us know that they had received an interview for two jobs, and they credited the Certified Safety Specialist program for helping them get those interviews. We pride ourselves on providing our students with the skills and knowledge that they need to land a job and excel in the safety profession.”

Both certificate programs improve the work of new and seasoned employees. For new employees, the classes offer a chance to learn how to identify and mitigate hazards. For seasoned employees, these classes refresh their knowledge on mitigation techniques and new technology, according to Mason.

WVU Extension Safety and Health continues to reach into the workforce community, providing career-advancing education that impacts the lives and livelihoods of West Virginians and beyond, Rice explained.

“For me, the highlight of the graduation was watching students accept their certificates with their families,” Mason said. “When we called the student to the front of the room, we also invited their families up to take a photo with them when they received their plaque. Workplace safety is about ensuring that every employee returns home at the end of the day to their families. I was happy that we could symbolize this ideal, a family safely reunited, during graduation.”

The ceremony honored 50 students who graduated from both programs over the last four years.

To learn more about WVU Extension Safety and Health, visit WVU Extension Safety and Health.

For more information on WVU Extension, visit WVU Extension or follow @WVUExtension on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

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