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An Inside Look at the Online course Prevention Through Design Course

Sep 28, 2017

Online courses are an avenue through which OSH professionals can complete the Society’s formal courses via a completely online experience. Participants receive the same level of course content and educational engagement, but can learn at their own pace anywhere an Internet connection is available.

“Our members have been asking for online educational opportunities,” says Keisha Raines, manager, online education. “Many employers want to support the educational needs of their OSH professionals, but want to avoid the added cost of travel and related expenses, which can be a particular concern for our international customers. Online course offers a way to mitigate those concerns while still providing the same caliber of educational content that customers expect from us.”

The first course offered on the new platform is Prevention Through Design (PTD), which was designed around ANSI/ASSP Z590.3-2011 (R2016) Prevention through Design Guidelines for Addressing Occupational Hazards and Risks in Design and Redesign Processes, a copy of which is included with the course. Instructor Georgi Popov, Ph.D., QEP, SMS, CMC, is a professor in the School of Environmental Physical and Applied Sciences at University of Central Missouri and the Society's 2017 Outstanding Safety Educator of the Year. The three-week course includes three modules and a final project.

Asked what prompted him to get involved in this new way of learning with ASSE, Popov points to Tom Cecich’s November 2016 President’s Message. “In that message, Tom encouraged members to ‘reimagine education,’ Popov explains. “There is so much just-in-time information that by the time we publish a textbook, it is ready for significant updates. This new way of learning offers flexibility and opportunities to update course materials quickly and efficiently.”

Reimagining education also means adapting to the needs of adult learners, most of whom are not interested in 45-minute lectures. Through online course, OSH professionals will receive reading materials and supplemental materials, then participate in interactive exercises and discussion boards, he says. “This flexibility gives participants the opportunity to engage in discussions whenever it is convenient for them.” According to Popov, the PTD course also features a series of brief videos that adult learners prefer to long, lecture-type videos.

To develop the course, Popov started with the framework and learning objectives, much like he would when developing a traditional, in-person course. “The main difference is the development of interactive tools based on the PTD standard,” he says. “We started with simple hazard identification tools and progressed to various risk assessment tools.”

As to topic selection, PTD and risk assessment were a natural choice given their importance to the OSH profession. “OSH professionals must expand their skill-set to include risk assessment (identification, analyses, evaluation), application of higher-level controls for risk reduction, PTD and preoperational risk assessment, and change managements,” Popov says. This shift to a risk-centric approach is one of the best ways for OSH professionals to effectively communicate with corporate executives. As Cecich wrote in 2016, “Leading organizations understand that the key to injury and illness reduction and greater operational efficiency lies with the need to identify, assess, manage and communicate workplace risk. Senior management understands the concept of managing risk.”

According to Popov, this shift is elevating the profession to greater importance within organizations. In addition, he notes that modern management system standards, such as ANSI/ASSP Z10 and ISO 45001, are risk-based and include similar hierarchy of controls structure. “PTD provides opportunities for OSH professionals to include safety-specific risks in the risk management system,” Popov states. “Aligning ISO 45001 with PTD initiatives is another important opportunity to consider. ISO 45001 provides the framework and the PTD standard provides the actual how-to methodologies and tools.”

From a learner’s perspective, the course will progress from hazard analysis tools, to using different scenarios, to using interactive risk assessment tools that present difference scenarios. “Videos will feature real-world scenarios to which participants will apply what they have learned from the standard,” Popov explains. “Visualizing the scenarios helps with the risk assessment process. Peer-reviewed articles from Professional Safety are also provided as supplemental materials.”

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