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Responding to a need

Occupational health and safety master’s degree first in Atlantic region

By Cam Thi Hong Ho

Students will have the option to enrol in an interdisciplinary master’s program in occupational health and safety (MOHS) at Memorial this fall.

Pending approval by the university’s Board of Regents, the program will be the first in the Atlantic region and the fourth in Canada, after the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and McGill University. The graduate degree is built on the expertise that has been developing at Memorial University over the past decade.

Leading faculty in the field

This expertise is channeled by SafetyNet, the university’s specialist research centre on occupational health and safety. The centre, which helped design the new program and whose leaders will help teach and direct it, has been in existence for over a decade and has an impressive record of grant funding and publications.

“This new master’s program is unique in that it is explicitly multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary,” said Dr. Stephen Bornstein, director, SafetyNet, and professor, Department of Political Science, and the Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine.

From left are Drs. Stephen Bornstein and Aimée Surprenant.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“All of its core courses will be taught by leading faculty of multiple academic units and from a range of relevant theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches.”

There is a demonstrated need for health and safety professionals in Newfoundland and Labrador and across Canada. Policy-makers, regulators and economic stakeholders have expressed concerns about the health and safety of workers and the impact of health and safety on work productivity.

“Workplaces are constantly changing and evolving through the use of new technologies, products and processes.” — Jackie Manuel

Challenges in occupational health and safety in Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to grow as the province’s economy becomes increasingly diverse and complex through the expansion of the petroleum and mining sectors, the development of new industrial and agricultural activities and the initiation of more large-scale construction projects.

Fast landing and career advancement

According to Dr. Aimée Surprenant, dean, School of Graduate Studies, the goal of the program is to provide the province, and the Atlantic region and Canada more broadly, with an urgently needed supply of university-educated and master’s-trained recruits for professional positions, as well as doctoral studies.

“Our graduates will be well-equipped to step into professional and administrative positions in the health and safety branches of government departments, in regulatory agencies such as compensation commissions, in industrial and commercial firms, and in representative organizations of industry and labour,” she said.

“It will also facilitate career advancement for current employees in these various sectors as they will have the added skills and knowledge obtained in the program. We are excited about the opportunity to train these new professionals and to contribute to health and safety in the province.”

Warm welcome

Jackie Manuel, chief executive officer, Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Safety Association, says the MOHS program will fill a gap that currently exists for graduates of the College of the North Atlantic’s Safety Engineering Technology Program who wish to continue their studies.

Jackie Manuel
Photo: Submitted

In addition, she says it will provide an opportunity for graduates of other related programs, such as medicine, nursing, occupational or physical therapy to expand their perspective — and employment opportunities — in this rapidly growing field.

“Workplaces are constantly changing and evolving through the use of new technologies, products and processes,” Ms. Manuel said.

“Often, the broad impacts of such dynamics are not well understood. This program will expand upon the capacity of Memorial University and the health and safety community at large, which benefit employers, workers and regulators in this province.”

For further information about admission requirements and the course structure, please contact the School of Graduate Studies.

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