OSH program receives reaccreditation

Nick Bohannon/The News

Story by Katlyn Mackie, Staff writer

The Occupational Safety and Health program recently received confirmation of its reaccreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

A team of three people from ABET visited campus in October 2016 to gather information on the OSH program, after which they wrote a report on their findings. During the summer, a committee of experts from ABET voted on whether the program would be reaccredited.

“They were very pleased with our program, that it was outstanding,” Tracey Wortham, dean of the OSH program said. “We were accredited with no weaknesses present.”

According to its website, ABET accreditation provides proof that a college program has met standards essential to produce graduates ready to enter the fields of applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.

According to ABET’s website, “Graduates from an ABET-accredited program have a solid educational foundation and are capable of leading the way in innovation, emerging technologies, and in anticipating the welfare and safety needs of the public.”

Wortham said the OSH program has been accredited since 1988 and gets reviewed for reaccreditation about every five years.

Wortham said when a program is being accredited, an outside source with expertise in the field visits campus to review the program thoroughly and interview professors, industry representatives and students. They look at what the program offers, the quality of classes and the quality of students they produce in terms of whether they find employment or advance their degrees once they graduate.

Wortham said the quality of the professors and the students in the program contributes to making Murray State’s OSH program unique. She said real life experience is applied in the classroom and students have the opportunity to go on field trips and visit companies to participate in student consulting projects.

Another big factor, Wortham said, is an internship program for students who are graduating. They have to complete a 500 hour internship working for a company under the mentoring of a safety professional.

“They leave with hands on work experience and hands on laboratory and classroom experience,” Wortham said.

The OSH program has also built relationships with major employers who hire students into safety, health and environmental positions. Wortham said Companies from various industries including oil/petroleum, construction, manufacturing, insurance, food production, and information technology send representatives on-site to Murray to network with students and recruit them for internships and full-time positions.

“Students in the OSH program have amazing opportunities to gain employment, often securing positions before graduation,” Wortham said.

The OSH program offers a bachelor’s and master’s degree in occupational safety and health. Students in the undergraduate program have an emphasis on either safety or environmental health while students in the graduate program have an emphasis on safety management, industrial hygiene or environmental health. There are currently about 415 students in the program, 60 of which are graduate students.

Morgan Huston, a graduate student in the OSH program, said the OSH program at Murray State is the only one in the country that is double-accredited at the same accreditation level in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. She said both programs are accredited in OSH while programs at other colleges are accredited in Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS), but not in both the undergraduate and graduate programs.

Huston said because of the accreditation, students graduate with a graduate safety practitioner certificate that allows them to forego a test and puts them a step above other safety professionals.

“Because it is such a quick pace changing field, the field of safety, the accreditation proves we are up to par with everyone else,” Huston said.

Another graduate student in the OSH program, Jordan Maberry, said she chose the OSH program because of its competitive nature and multiple job opportunities. She also said the accreditation helps with acquiring a job directly after graduation.

“The accreditation adds credibility to your name and your degree when you are searching for a job,” Maberry said.