The project began with recognition that the lack of communication and influence skills presented major reputational risks to EH&S departments, and threatened safety culture initiatives. This was because safety staff, while armed with technical knowledge, lacked people skills needed for successful programming.
Unfortunately, the only solution available was the EH&S Academy hosted at the University of Texas. Barriers to participation for both systems included excessive travel costs, expensive registration fees, and eventually California law, which prohibited state-funded travel to Texas (AB1887).
In response, a training team at UC Riverside tackled the problem using existing resources. In 2016, the EH&S Professional Education program was created. This innovative solution bridged silos by developing knowledge leveraging an eLearning delivery method. Staff completed online training courses, then later attended a workshop code-named “How not-to-be-a jerk training.” Afterward, they were issued “EH&S Professional” certifications and continuing-education units.
To create the online training courses, web conference software was used to record the voice and presentations of speakers. Later, eLearning software was used to edit and publish to a free, shared learning management system.
Within a couple of months, the entire program was online for consumption at the convenience of participants. On top of that, it was offered free of charge, including hotel, travel, and rental costs. Meanwhile, participants continued to perform their daily work, since the courses could be taken online anytime, and picked up where people left off if they could not do it in one sitting.
This is the first time that a hybrid model was used to develop professional skills for EH&S staff. To date, a total of 461 attendees have participated. This is great service to the approximately 600 staff in safety departments throughout both systems.
For more information, visit www.ehsProfessional.education