TSTC to offer OSHA-compliant degree program in Breckenridge

(BRECKENRIDGE, Texas) – Safety on worksites is important.

The person behind the scenes making sure that all of the rules and regulations are being followed is a certified Occupational Health and Safety Administration technician. Texas State Technical College will offer an Associate of Applied Science degree in Occupational Safety Compliance Technology at the Breckenridge campus this fall.

TSTC had planned to start classes in the program in Breckenridge last year, but Martin Knudsen, the program’s department chair, but did not have enough applicants. Knudsen said he expects to see the program thrive in West Texas, where oil fields and wind farms are in need of safety compliance officers and directors.

“A lot of our students are those that were in the trade industry and are getting older. We tell them we will retrain you so you will know the hazards in your industry,” he said. “When you learn the compliance side of the industry, that is what makes a good safety person.”

Knudsen said he has seen enrollment increase when the economy drops.

“When the economy hiccups, we explode (with enrollment),” he said. “I am expecting that to happen this fall in Breckenridge and Waco. People always say they want to go back to school and they need to go back to school. This is the best time for a person in the field to become an OSHA technician.”

The reason for that, according to Knudsen, is the fact that the need for OSHA technicians will never end.

“Once you learn (OSHA training), you learn it for life,” he said. “The technician position is not going anywhere.”

Teresa Purcell will be instructing the five-semester course in Breckenridge. She and Knudsen both said the OSHA technician position is misrepresented as being the “bad guys.”

“A lot of people, when they hear OSHA, they say, ‘Oh, my God.’ They are not the bad guys,” Purcell said. “They are on the sites training workers and providing the knowledge to better educate people to be safe.”

Knudsen said the primary objective for technicians is to “make sure people do not get hurt.”

“Safety is enormous on the job site,” he said. “Technicians want to make sure all areas are in compliance with all of the current regulations. They want to make sure that mom or dad gets to go home safely at the end of the day.”

Students will learn the hazards of machines, safe work methods, first aid, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation procedures during the five semesters.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.