NORFOLK, Va. –
Safety and occupational health (SOH), industrial hygiene (IH), and environmental and emergency management (EEM) professionals from across the Department of Defense (DOD) learned the latest in safety, occupational health and environmental protection trends at the annual Joint Safety and Environmental Professional Development Symposium (PDS) April 17-21, 2023.
In its 31st year, the PDS is a free professional development opportunity hosted by the Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center (NAVSAFENVTRACEN) in a joint setting to share innovative ideas, trends and information in safety and occupational health, environmental protection and industrial hygiene.
Hundreds of education sessions were punctuated by DOD keynote speakers throughout the week, to include Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness Shawn Skelly, who acknowledged the attendees for their collective representation of DOD’s safety expertise.
“You each have a role in the implementation of the department’s strategic plan,” Skelly said. “It’s your wisdom and experience; it’s your technical voices that enable senior leaders to highlight the importance of incorporating safety and occupational health risk management processes to get after every decision that has the potential to impact the safety and occupational health of the total force.”
This symposium increases the value and relevancy of our attendees’ professional disciplines, said Naval Safety Command (NAVSAFECOM) Commander, Rear Adm. Christopher M. Engdahl.
“Attendees’ inputs to DOD operations are critical to mission success and this symposium is a vehicle to provide training that is both ready, relevant and industry-aligned.”
More than 2,700 participants representing all DOD branches, as well as multiple federal and international agencies and students pursuing classwork in related fields, attended 100-plus education sessions. Participants hailed from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 20 time zones and 27 countries.
“Each year we continue to globally expand with more attendees and topics presented by our government, industry and academic partners,” said NAVSAFENVTRACEN Commanding Officer Cmdr. Charles Wilhite. “When we began offering this online in 2013, we only had roughly half the attendance and course offerings we have now. But each year the symposium grows and the flame of attendee and presenter interest is in no danger of getting extinguished.”
Session presenters represent backgrounds in safety, environmental, occupational health, public health, industrial hygiene, radiation health and occupational medicine.
Educational sessions included general safety, operational safety, hazard management, occupational safety and health, industrial hygiene, occupational medicine, environmental protection, ethics, teleworking and other trending topics. Participants can access recordings of most sessions for further reinforcement and reflection.
This year’s symposium also featured claimant meetings discussing respective safety initiatives for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, and U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center.
Meetings and sessions provide participants with attendance certificates to document CEUs earned. Safety and occupational health professionals collectively earned 1,017 hours of continuing education units (CEU).
For those interested in participating or presenting during next year’s PDS April 22-26, 2024, email the symposium’s planning committee at NAVSAFENVTRACEN_JOINT_PDS@navy.mil.