About the OSHT Program
The Odessa College Occupational Safety and Health Technology (OSHT) Program was developed in response to continuous communication from area employers and company owners that safety education was needed to provide more employees for safety and risk control jobs within a variety of industries. The primary instructors in the OSHT Program/OSHT department chair and the Dean of Technical Studies and Curriculum met numerous times with individuals in management and community leadership positions within the college’s educational service district to determine the kind of support the college could offer to this sector of needed workforce education. Answers to that question were consistent, that OSHT courses were needed on a flexible format that could accommodate busy adults already fully employed in the existing work force.
Beginning in the mid-1990’s, Petroleum and OSHT Advisory committee members from business and industry began to offer feedback that more OSHT courses were needed to increase access to a certification or degree format that would help industry personnel be able to advance in their chosen careers. Advisory committee members were deeply involved in assessing the need within the college’s educational service district and the state’s economy as a whole for the potential this area of study offered. Advisory committee members included representatives of business and industry, state workforce agencies, representative college students, and faculty members from other academic or technical areas. One particular aspect of the needed education was that the people who would benefit most from the OSHT programs were those personnel who were frequently working in remote locations for sixty-hour plus work weeks. A person might be working on location in Siberia, in the South China Sea, or in the North Sea for several days in a row before flying back into a residential area which offered them the chance to undertake any school work. The need for a flexible schedule and a web-based format was established through emails and conversations with industry personnel.
Participation in the Advisory committee from on-campus faculty partners included personnel from divisions who were already working with computer assisted instruction. Key participants in this process included one person who had already been working to install coursework on web based format to facilitate college students’ access to coursework in other academic subject areas. A grant from Title V that enabled Odessa College to greatly facilitate the use of technology to deliver college instruction had been received in 1997 and was used in part to install the OSHT courses on the web.
At approximately the same time, companies across the country and individuals from around the globe were inquiring about the OSHT courses offered through Odessa College. Advisory committee minutes in the Fall of 2000 reflect that Dept. Chair Lynn Reese was receiving an increasing number of inquiries about the OSHT courses on the web that were available through Odessa College. These two opportunities aligned so that in 2000, the OSHT program courses were dropped into place within other OC web-based classes to create a web based degree in OSHT.
Explosive growth in the safety and risk control job market has contributed since to rapid growth of the program. In the years between the inception of the first OSHT credit courses to the time of this report, OSHT enrollments have increased by a factor of 175%. This phenomenal growth is reflective of the fact that business and industry from all sectors, not just mineral extraction and petroleum-based business, need safety and risk control employees. Graduates of the OC OSHT programs have been employed in hospitals, resorts, manufacturing businesses, construction, and non-profit organizations in addition to those that have worked for oil and gas related businesses.
Accreditation: Odessa College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the
Southern Association of Colleges & Schools. Odessa College has been authorized by
(SACS) to offer the complete OSHT degree program online.
The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) recognizes the two-year program in
Occupational Safety and Health Technology at Odessa College as meeting their
educational requirements to take the ASP/CSP certification exam.