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Online Certificate Programs in Occupational Safety

Find out about online occupational safety courses and in which certificate programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

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Essential Information

Occupational safety certificates can be obtained in an online format from several schools. Some institutions offer the certificate program entirely online, while others provide approximately 50-75% of the courses online and require the rest to be taken on campus. The certificate can be earned as part of a larger associate's degree program or as a stand-alone program. The curriculum can include classes in hazardous materials, construction safety, industrial hygiene and legal issues in the field.

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Certificate in Occupational Safety

An occupational safety certificate is pursued by some as continuing education (following the completion of a bachelor's degree) for the purpose of providing industrial managers with safety and health training. Others view the certificate as the first step towards a career as a safety professional. Students of this program acquire fundamental safety knowledge, learn about how to prevent health hazards in the workplace and handle their managerial safety responsibilities.

Program Information and Requirements

An occupational safety certificate program is generally composed of 12-20 credit hours. Online materials are presented through a digital information system such as AccessPlus. Courses are generally conducted asynchronously, which means that students can view lectures and complete assignments at any time of the day as long as certain deadlines are met. Students interact with their instructors and peers by posting questions to message boards, discussing the materials in chat rooms and sending e-mails.

Course Topics

The curriculum for an occupational safety certificate program is usually derived from the curriculum of an associate's or bachelor's degree in occupational safety. Sometimes it is the same as a higher-level degree but without the general education courses. Typical subjects and classes include:

Fleet Safety

This course examines the components of a safe, reliable and economical fleet of vehicles such as semi-trucks or school buses. Topics emphasized include accident prevention along with vehicle engineering, hazardous materials handling, driver training and vehicle inspecting. Rules and regulations involving the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are examined as they pertain to fleet safety.

Safety and Health Laws

Statutes and legislation involving workplace health and safety is the focus of this class. A thorough exploration is undertaken of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act and the regulations and jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Other legal topics studied include worker's compensation, the general duty clause, workplace liability and the legal responsibilities of employers.

Industrial Hygiene

The physical, biological and chemical hazards inherent in the workplace and their effect on worker health are examined. The history, foundations, regulations and calculations of industrial health and the associated agencies are studied in depth. Various methods for preventing and handling workplace hazards are analyzed. Different types of equipment for worker protection are identified and appraised for their effectiveness.


Career Information

An occupational safety certificate program provides useful instruction for anyone in the industrial management field such as construction managers and production managers. These careers generally require a bachelor's degree in a business, engineering or construction-related field as well. A career as an occupational health and safety technician is attainable with only an occupational safety certificate.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May of 2015, occupational health and safety technicians earned a yearly average salary of $51,270 (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicts an employment growth of 9% for occupational health and safety technicians from 2014-2024.

Continuing Education Information

Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in occupational safety are also available entirely online. Earning an associate's degree provides a more direct route to a career as an occupational health and safety technician. A bachelor's degree is required to become an occupational health and safety specialist, a career that can yield approximately $21,000 more per year than an occupational health and safety technician.

Online occupational safety certificate programs are for working professionals seeking continuing education credits as well as students who want to start their career in the field. Curriculum primarily discusses hazard prevention and handling.

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