Salt Lake City, UT: Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah, Grant No. T42-OH-008414, 2007 Sep; :1-215
The Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (RMCOEH) is a growing Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Education and Research Center (ERC) that has been in existence at the University of Utah since 1977. The center prepares leaders in occupational safety and health research and practice in the following disciplines: Ergonomics and Safety (E&S), Hazardous Substances Academic Training (HSAT), Industrial Hygiene (IH), Occupational Injury Prevention Research Training (OIPRT) and Occupational Medicine Residency (OM). We also have Continuing Education (CE) and Hazardous Substances Training (HST) Programs. The RMCOEH has provided specific curricula by Occupational Health Nurses (OHNs) to emphasize the importance of OHN to our trainees. We have trained over 393 graduates to date, and are recognized for high quality trainees and strong, interdisciplinary education programs. The Continuing Education program during 2002 - 2007 has presented 518 courses to 11,762 registrants and Hazardous Substances Training has presented 92 courses to 1,251 registrants. The school and ERC programs maintain accreditation by all respective organizations. The public health programs are accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. The Occupational Medicine Residency program is ACGME accredited for the maximum of five years. Likewise, the Industrial Hygiene and Ergonomics and Safety programs are accredited through ASAC-ABET. Faculty members conduct research and have productive publication records that frequently include students as co-authors. The RMCOEH has extensive research programs such as those that seek to prevent common musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder tendonitis, and low back pain. These disorders cost the U.S. approximately $200 billion per year. RMCOEH faculty also lead national efforts to develop evidence based guidelines for more effective treatment of these disorders which have been incorporated in statutes and regulations in several states. Faculty are also active in other areas of research such as the National Children’s Study, bioterrorism, and other mass casualty events. Regarding service to the community, RMCOEH faculty consult with over 200 Utah businesses annually to provide assistance to reduce or prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. Additionally, ERC faculty hold leadership positions in professional societies and serve on major advisory and professional committees. Their proficiency and recognition as national and international experts comprise a major strength of the center. RMCOEH has been the only ERC in Region VIII (UT, CO, WY, MT, ND, SD), even though these states are annually in the top rankings for occupational fatalities and thus have an urgent need for more OSH professionals. In the past 5-year grant period, we have made major progress, including the first piece of Legislation supporting (OSH) training in the US in many years [Senate Bill (S.B.) 159, 2005 Utah General Legislative Session], along with growth in extent and quality of all of our programs. The RMCOEH is also the only statutorily established OSH ERC in the US as of 2007 (SB234, 2007 General Session). The RMCOEH has further built and enjoys collaborative relationships with businesses, trade groups, employee groups, governmental units, healthcare organizations, workers compensation insurers, and community groups, and these interactions foster an atmosphere that facilitates state-of-the art training for OSH professionals for the 21st Century. These relationships continue to provide the external ‘laboratories’ to test critical research theories and develop the innovations to provide safer and healthier workplaces. The RMCOEH has also developed the requisite infrastructure to support the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) (I and II), and Research to Practice (r2p) research missions. The Center hosted the largest Townhall meeting in the US to develop NORA II. The RMCOEH’s CE and Outreach programs promote and publicize efficacious strategies, helping ensure knowledge is translated into practice.
Kurt Hegmann, MD, MPH, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84108