Retired U.S. Navy Seabee, Applies New EH&S Skills In the Field

michael -ramirez

- Michael P. Ramirez, ASP

Term : March, 2015
Department : EHS
Program : HAZWOPER

Among Michael Ramirez’s professional accomplishments: he has managed the safety program for construction projects in southern Afghanistan, served as the platoon commander, safety officer and reserve coordinator for the battalion and regiment in southern California, and completed 20 years of celebrated military service. Since retiring from the military, Ramirez has worked as the campus safety officer and hazardous materials manager for the U.S. Geological Survey. As he transitioned into his new role, he decided to update his understanding of civilian HAZWOPER and hazardous materials management by enrolling in courses at UCSC Extension’s Environmental Health and Safety program.

What brought you to UCSC Extension?

After I landed my job as an occupational health safety specialist, I started looking around for classes to learn more specialized skills needed for hazardous materials management. UCSC Extension was recommended to me, and I was excited to find a UC-quality program in environmental health and safety, so close to where I work. After I took my HAZWOPER class, I decided to enroll in the dual certificate for Environmental Health and Safety Management. It has worked out really well.

How have you applied new skills to your work?

I assess the work that the scientist and captain do on a research vessel, Polaris. They take samples out of the Bay and do research on food web ecology and water quality. While out in the field I’ve used elements of each class I’ve taken at Extension. I’ve assessed ergonomics and often used knowledge from “Waste Stream Management,” “Toxicology Principles” “Industrial Hygiene and Health” and “Safety Management, Introduction” at work. I assess the chemicals used, environmental concerns, and the emergency procedures that we have in place, also the interior of the vessel, including the ventilation systems, confined space, and the overall working environment. “Dimensions of Safety and Health Training” is a challenging class, but I enjoyed it because it covers curriculum development, including teaching and presenting training materials. I do training at work, and it’s been great to learn how to structure training.       

What challenges do EH&S professionals face today?

The field is changing quite a bit. Emergency preparedness is becoming bigger and bigger. EH&S managers need to think how we’d continue operations in the advent of a disaster such as an earthquake, fire, or flood. How do you continue your business with minimum operational loss during an emergency? I’ve noticed a greater demand for training in this area.

What stood out to you about Extension courses?

The classes here are taught by industry leaders. They cover relevant topics, and discuss what matters now. The courses offer a little bit of theory and a lot of practical applications. The instructors discuss what [techniques] really work, which is important to have when teaching adults. The professors are motivated, professional, and approachable; this program is “top-tier”. Overall it’s been an outstanding investment and I am highly recommending it to others in the field.

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