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CHIPS Articles: Over 2,000 DoD and DON Safety & Occupational Health Professionals Attend Virtual Conference

Over 2,000 DoD and DON Safety & Occupational Health Professionals Attend Virtual Conference
Conference saves money and increases worker productivity
By Sharon Anderson and Cmdr. Greg Cook - April 25, 2014
Due to budget cuts the Defense Department issued guidance in 2013 and 2014 which has led to significant travel restrictions in the departments of Defense and the Navy, including travel associated with many professional development and continuing education conferences conducted in years past.

Last year, the Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center (NAVSAFENVTRACEN) overcame these constraints by conducting its annual Professional Development Conference (PDC) online. The conference, besides facilitating an information exchange, also provides required certifications for command safety personnel. It was so successful that NAVSAFENVTRACEN once again conducted the conference virtually this year, the 22nd Annual Joint Safety & Occupational Health Professional Development Conference, was held online March 10-14, 2014.

Cmdr. Greg Cook, NAVSAFENVTRACEN commanding officer wrote in an email that the conference drew 2,202 registered attendees from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Department of Defense, and Coast Guard. Both active duty and civilian personnel participated.

Conducting the conference online not only saves money in travel and per diem expenses, it increases worker productivity by eliminating travel time. Additionally, alternative training classes and comparable conferences that offer similar training require registration fees as well.

“No one traveled. Our conservative estimate is the PDC avoided $2.2 million in travel-related expenses and returned over 22,000 hours of productivity by avoiding travel days. Attendees participated from all over: Germany, Singapore, Bahrain, and Guam. From small reserve centers in mid America to large comamnds in Japan, attendees joined in a collaborative learning environment. It required some to come online in the middle of the night but they did it,” Cook wrote.

The virtual PDC featured more than 120 presentations and more than 150 geographically dispersed speakers which included flag officers and Senior Executive Service members.

“Up to 13 sessions ran concurrently during the day, providing considerable subject options for attendees. Some sessions had well over 190 participants,” Cook wrote. “Up to three sessions ran concurrently during the evenings.” This allowed overseas attendees to participate during their normal working hours.

DoD and service instructions require safety professionals to obtain annual continuing education units (CEU) to maintain currency within their field of discipline. Additionally, certified safety specialists (CSP) and certified industrial hygienists (CIH) are required to obtain CEUs to maintain certification.

NAVSAFENVTRACEN’s professional development conference provides no-fee courses and workshops that provide continuing education requirements for individual qualifications and certifications. By conducting the PDC online personnel were able to maintain their certifications.

“We maintained an interactive live chat in every room which could be addressed to the entire group or to an individual; we also used polling questions to engage the students. Cumulatively, attendees rated speaker and content performance at over 90 percent,” Cook wrote.

Several sessions from the PDC were recorded and are available from the conference website at: https://events-na2.adobeconnect.com/content/connect/c1/889710285/en/events/event/shared/890713646/event_landing.html?sco-id=890048313&_charset_=utf-8.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center www.public.navy.mil/navsafecen/navsafenvtracen/Pages/default.aspx

Screenshot of the opening of the 22nd Annual Joint Safety & Occupational Health Professional Development Conference held March 10-14, 2014 online.
Screenshot of the opening of the 22nd Annual Joint Safety & Occupational Health Professional Development Conference held March 10-14, 2014 online.
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