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Deep South Center - Summer Institute Wrap Up

The Deep South Center for Occupational Health and Safety (DSC) wrapped up another great Environmental Occupational Safety & Health Summer Institute on May 18th. There were over 20 applications from across the region for the 10 slots in the 10th Annual Institute.   Undergraduate students from both two and four year institutions—Montevallo, Georgia State University, Jefferson State Community College—were accepted into the program.  These students were treated to a week of learning about the DSC and all that we do for environmental and occupational health and safety.  Instructors shared information about our NIOSH supported academic programs in industrial hygiene, occupational health nursing, occupational injury prevention and occupational safety and ergonomics and we took several field trips to expose the students to how OHS fits in various settings—from academia to industry.

On the UAB campus, students gained hands on experiences in the Industrial Hygiene Laboratory with Dr. Jonghwa Oh, and the IH PhD students Jake Shedd and Margaret Summers.  The group also toured the Cyclotron and learned about the safety protocols and risk management for those working in this high radiation exposure area.  Students were encouraged to engage the personnel to hear firsthand how they stay safe working with this complicated equipment.  We visited UAB’s Occupational Safety & Health offices, to learn about laboratory safety protocols throughout the university as well as the medical surveillance programs that enroll workers who have potential exposures at UAB. The final stop on campus was UAB’s Deep South Biosafety Center led by Dr. Lisa McCormick.  Students participated in a donning and doffing simulation to help them understand the techniques involved in proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Moving off campus, we visited Amerex Co, in Trussville, Alabama, a manufacturer of firefighting products including extinguishers and hydrants with one of our alumni, Laura Hurst, as our guide.  The students were able to experience an industrial setting and all of the various safety protocols and practices they have in place.  Ms. Hurst engaged the students by sharing some of her own stories as she forged her path to become a safety professional.   We also traveled to Auburn to visit the Samuel Ginn School of Engineering which houses the DSC’s injury prevention and ergonomics programs.  Drs. Jerry Davis and Sean Gallagher filled the day with laboratory tours and a short presentation on their research.  Students were able to learn about the Auburn faculty research and participated in hands on activities learning in the lab. The Summer Institute wrapped up at the May meeting of the American Association of Safety Engineers (ASSE) at Brasfield and Gorrie in Birmingham.  ASSE provided a safety seminar, lunch and networking with safety professionals from companies and industries from the Birmingham area.

The 10th Summer Institute was a great success thanks to the faculty, students and staff from UAB and Auburn and the professionals who participated.  We all had a wonderful experience—meeting new people and learning about the different aspects of OHS in the workplace and the research laboratories.  The students gained invaluable knowledge and insight and we hope to see some of them enrolled in our programs in the near future.