The role of constraints to developing and expanding occupational safety curricula and degree programs was discussed. The author reviewed the charge to NIOSH from the OSHA Act which is to foster educational programs to supply qualified personnel in the field of occupational safety and industrial health. Curriculum development grants from NIOSH and the establishment of NIOSH funded Educational Resource Centers (ERCs) at 12 universities in the United States were a strong impetus to the expansion and development of occupational safety degree programs. The author defined constraints with regard to the success of these programs as, internally, a barrier to achieving program objectives or, externally, a barrier to adequately preparing qualified individuals to meet the needs of industry and government. Overriding issues of concern in designing a safety curriculum were given by the author as determining appropriate curricular components without being influenced by what the academic institution as a whole does best; establishing curricula that will enable the generalist to perform well under a variety of situations while at the same time allowing the specialist the highly technical expertise necessary for limited but critically important tasks; and proper placement of the program within the institutional structure. Constraints to the development of effective safety curricula were grouped into three categories. Institutional constraints included inability to coordinate the support of departments for interactive programs due to lack of interest, geographical separation, or mandated degree requirements; institutional and external funding; inequity of salaries and entry level requirements within a university; practical experience of faculty and emphasis on research and publishing. Administrative constraints included curriculum cohesiveness, evaluation criteria, involvement of local industry, limitations to teaching, research, and continued staff development. Program operational constraints included insufficient instructional materials, isolation of the program, inadequate internships, and inability to motivate students for higher education.
Symposium on Occupational Safety Research and Education: A Dialogue Between Two Communities, Division of Safety Research and Division of Training and Manpower Development, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 82-103