13:45 PM

UHCL offers free professional development on workplace safety

Occupational health and safety experts at University of Houston-Clear Lake will present a series of four webinars to educate employers and employees on workplace safety issues pertaining to COVID-19.

Beginning May 21 through June 11, the virtual training sessions will focus on the safety measures employers and employees can continue to take to protect themselves, their customers and their families from COVID-19.

Associate Professor of Occupational Health and Safety Robert N. Phalen in UH-Clear Lake’s College of Engineering will lead the presentations, focusing on the science of how infectious viruses are transmitted, and how we can protect each other.

“Pandemics, epidemics and outbreaks are not once-in-a-lifetime events,” Phalen said. “Ebola happened just a few years ago and influenza is a very serious condition that we deal with every year. Viruses are mysterious, but since our treatments are better now, the outcome is often better.”

While face masks are a common sight in 2021, Phalen said, personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the last lines of defense against infections like COVID-19. Improving ventilation, maintaining distances and reducing contact with others are often more efficient and effective methods to help keep us from having to bring out the ventilators and face coverings.

“The more educated we are, the more public-health minded we’ll become,” Phalen said. “Americans typically have a strong resistance to anything that restricts our freedoms. But it’s like seat belts; remember how hard it was to get everyone to buckle up? Education and information led to acceptance and compliance.”

Phalen said that although new government recommendations are loosening mask restrictions, employers are still responsible for taking care of their workers.
“Employers must report any confirmed cases and can be cited by OSHA for violations. Developing an infection protection plan for all employees helps everyone be prepared,” he said.

Phalen acknowledged that COVID-19 created many barriers but believes that the webinar series is one way that UHCL is stepping forward to assist.

“Our goal is to be the resource for employers and the community,” he explained. “The university is funded by tax dollars and is a service to the community. Projects like this are a key element of why we’re here.”

Professor of Occupational Safety and Health Magdy Akladios, and Daysha O’Pry, a board-certified industrial hygienist and safety professional at Shell Oil Company in Deer Park, will also participate in the webinars and answer questions.

The webinars are free, and are funded by a grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

To receive continuing education credits for this training, participants must attend all four sessions. All webinars are offered free of charge.

Register for the webinars online.