Although the Pacific Basin is home to some of the most dangerous occupations (farming, fishing, construction) and an ethnically and culturally diverse population, there are no formal training programs in occupationally safety and health in the region. The aim of the training grant was to establish an undergraduate minor in occupational safety and health (OSH). The program would be housed in the Psychology Department, but would include students from a variety of majors and faculty from a variety of disciplines. The program would focus on the behavioral aspects of establishing safer and healthier work environments and would include an emphasis on cultural differences in approaches to occupational safety and health. It was anticipated that the program would begin with a small number of students (4-6) and would eventually grow to 15 students in the minor. The first year was devoted to developing several new courses (Introduction to Occupational Safety and Health, Introduction to Principles of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, Leadership and Innovation in Occupational Safety and Health), integrating these courses with existing required courses (Organizational Psychology, Cross-Cultural Psychology) and electives, obtaining approval of the minor, establishing an advisory board, and informing students of the program. All of these goals were met during the first year. In addition, the year was used to enhance library holdings in occupational safety and health and developing community links. The second year was to be devoted to offering courses, continuing recruiting efforts, and establishing an OSH office and laboratory with the necessary equipment. These aims, too, were met by the end of the second year. To our surprise, student interest greatly exceeded our expectations. Rather than having 4-6 students in the introductory courses, 35 students enrolled in the minor courses (and this popularity has continued into the third year). The students represent a wide variety of cultures and ethnic groups (Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Caucasian, and Latin American). The Advisory Board has met and provided valuable suggestions to the faculty. A speaker series was initiated. The size of the faculty contributing to the program has increased to include health and safety issues in public educational settings. Requests from the community have been received to create special training, research projects, and certificates in specified aspects of occupational safety and health (i.e. county workers).
Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hilo, HI 96720