We study the impact of our surroundings, both natural and built, on health.
The field of environmental and occupational health covers everything from the air we breathe and the water we drink to the injuries and mental health challenges we may face at work. We strive to improve health by promoting practices and policies that reduce harmful exposures and protect vulnerable populations. From improving worker health and safety, to promoting healthy housing, to creating new tools to monitor air and water quality, we work to make our homes, our workplaces, and our communities healthier places for all.
A graduate degree in environmental & occupational health prepares you to think critically about complex challenges and to design solutions that improve public health. When you leave one of our programs, you’ll be ready to address emerging environmental and workplace issues in a way that builds on science while prioritizing real people. Our graduates work in environmental health and safety, emergency management, environmental epidemiology, and workplace safety and health in private, nonprofit, and government organizations.
On October 28 and 29, the Center for Health, Work & Environment attended and served on the planning committee for the Rocky Mountain Safety Conference. The annual event, hosted by the Colorado Safety Association, brought together over 100 safety professionals in the region and focused on safety training based on a core driving principle of Total Worker Health® (TWH) – human engagement. TWH is rooted in the practice of approaching employees as more than just workers, but as human beings rooted in dignity, allowing safety professionals to seek the comprehensive health of the worker as a whole person.
Here are a few highlights from the conference – we hope you find them helpful and that they inspire you in your pursuit of TWH through safety training.
This year’s program featured guest speakers who collectively emphasized the importance of engaging with your audience when conducting workplace safety trainings. They recommended connecting with safety training participants through empathy or humor. Personal stories of impact, comical anecdotes, and general moments of authenticity act as memorable magnets that attract the safety lessons in a learner’s mind. Drawing an emotional (moving, funning, surprising) connection during a lesson makes it far more likely that your audience will remember what they’ve been taught, and more importantly, implement the training in their behavior.
Aligning with the overall theme of human engagement, our team learned in a breakout session how to approach drug use in the workplace. As a general practice for not only supporting your employees, but also being able to better maintain a drug-safe workplace, our speakers suggested forming authentic, consistent relationships with employees. These relationships will allow you to recognize patterns or changes in behavior related to signs of substance use. Paired with these relationships, the speakers also recommended organizations establish a drug/alcohol policy as well as have managers take courses better equipping them to notice signs of inebriation or drug use.
As part of our service on the planning committee for this event, we teamed up with our partners at Colorado State University to bring in Rebecca Brossoit, a PhD student whose research focuses on employee sleep and fatigue. Rebecca discussed the importance of sleep and the impact that it can have on everyday life, including work performance (as employees who do not get enough sleep are more prone to injury on the job). Rebecca took a holistic approach to addressing worker fatigue by highlighting ways to improve sleep at the employee, organizational, and federal/state levels. Some examples include:
The offers a myriad of safety training options for HR personnel, safety professionals, and business owners. We’d love to start a dialog about how our team of experts can come alongside to make the safety training process easier for you and more impactful for your organization. Reach out to us here.