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Occupational Health and Safety

Overview

Because work is bad enough without having to worry about dying.

Description

Have you ever held a job? Maybe in the summertime, or on evenings or weekends to help bring in some cash? You probably barely noticed something that almost certainly happened when you were at work. Ready for what that was?

You were not eaten by a bear.

Pretty great, right? Not being eaten by a bear is one of our favorite things. Unless your job specifically dealt with bears, like zookeepers, animal trainers, and ice cream scoopers, you probably never even thought about it. In fact, there are tons and tons of potential hazards at every job. While bears might be at the bottom of the list for most, there are plenty of others that are much higher.

This is why we need people who focus on occupational health and safety. They are the people in charge of ensuring that no one suffers undue danger or injury while on the job. This can be as obvious as noting that a ceiling is ready to collapse, or as potentially invisible as finding carcinogens in the air ducts.

We're sorry if we're making anyone nervous here. The point is not that the world is terrifying, but that there are people actively working to ensure it's a lot less so. Isn't that a good thing? Please, just stop screaming for a second.

It's possible that you had the bad luck to have a Batman-esque origin story where someone in the family was made sick or dead by some hazard on the job. If that's the case, you know why you're majoring here. As a culture, we're at our jobs at least 33% of our weekdays, and in many cases, even more than that. It's a good idea to have those places not be giant deathtraps.

That's not to say this job is all about being a humorless killjoy, scheming to take the wonder out of the work environment. Sure, you might like it if there was a little bit less chainsaw-juggling in the food preparation area, but that's just common sense.

No, this area of expertise presents some unique challenges that could be fun for the right person. Every occupation has its own unique dangers. This means that to properly safeguard against the problems, you're outthinking a whole slew of challenges. That's right, you're playing defense for the strange, shadowy war between danger and the unsuspecting workers of the American workplace. Why, you're basically a superhero. The tights are optional.

A lot of people who major in this end up moving onto OSHA, the federal agency tasked with this sort of thing. But there are other options. You might be surprised that many companies would rather not have their workers troubled by preventable dangers and could use someone with your skill set.

Chances are, you already know if you're the kind of person who would thrive with this life path. If you are, go for it. We could really use you. The Shmoop offices are swarming with hungry bears.

Famous People who majored in Occupational Health and Safety

  • David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Dorothy Dougherty, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Deborah Berkowitz, OSHA senior policy advisor
  • Mr. Spock, of Star Trek
  • Arthur from Inception

Percentage of US students who major in Occupational Health and Safety:

0.1% (Source)

Stats obtained from this source.