According to a NIOSH-commissioned needs assessment, future demand for occupational safety and health services will significantly outstrip the number of professionals with the necessary training, education, and experience to provide them (Westat, 2011). Whereas U.S. employers expect to hire an average of 5,000 occupational safety and health professionals per year, only 2,835 such professionals graduated in 2011. Many experienced personnel are approaching retirement age. Thus, demand for professional occupational safety and health services remains high. These services are critically needed in the 177 counties covered by CARERC in eastern Kentucky, east Tennessee, West Virginia, western Virginia, and western North Carolina. This region annually reports high proportions of occupational injuries related to transportation / highway incidents; production agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting; and mining – all regionally important industries (BLS-CFOI 2009, 2011).
CARERC specifically aims to (1) provide interdisciplinary occupational health and safety education for graduate students; (2) develop student research skills; (3) conduct interdisciplinary research on a variety of occupational diseases and injuries; (4) deliver continuing education, consultation and outreach to address environmental and occupational safety and health concerns; and (5) translate our research and the research of others into practice to prevent injury and disease and their associated costs. Toward these ends, CARERC provides education, training, and research support for master’s and doctoral students in
In providing these degree programs, CARERC combines the academic resources of four colleges at the University of Kentucky (UK) and Eastern Kentucky University (EKU): the UK College of Public Health, the UK College of Engineering, the UK College of Nursing, and the EKU College of Justice and Safety. CARERC is one of only 18 such university-based occupational safety and health training programs funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (CDC/NIOSH). It is the only ERC focused exclusively on the needs of Central Appalachia.