UFred course has ‘huge impact’ on workplace interactions

OHS student Jada Coyle says Psychosocial Hazards opened eyes to mental health issues

Jada Coyle has been a health and safety professional for more than 12 years. As a single mother, she wanted a career that didn’t require her to work three jobs to support herself and her daughters. She started to work in the field, but after two short years, the company she worked for shut its doors. It turns out, she loved the career that she says “fell into her lap,” and went in search of more in the health and safety industry. She found a new job in that field but quickly found out she had a lot to learn.

“Going from a small 20-man electrical company to a 600- to 800-man pipeline company was an eye-opener. Luckily, I work for a company that believes in educating their workers, and they sent me to school,” she said.

She has been with that company ever since, specializing in claims management and working with modified workers to help get them back in the field.

Jada started her OHS education with smaller courses, like National Construction Safety Officer (NSCO), Tap Root Training, and leadership courses. She then decided to dive into higher education in health and safety and began researching schools.

“UFred (University of Fredericton) offered online courses which help me manage work life, mom life, and still get my education. They also offer the Certified Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) Pathway, which is where I would like to end up. It was the best choice for me,” she said.

Jada earned her Certificate in Health, Safety, and Environmental Processes (CHSEP), and is currently working on her Diploma in Safety, Health, and Environmental Management (SHEM) – which puts her on the right path to earn her CRSP designation.

“So far, I have had a great experience. The peer groups are diverse, and you get many different perspectives in your discussion groups. The teachers all have their own skills that really help you open your mind and think in different ways,” she explained.

She says the Psychosocial Hazards course and its instructor, Lesley Maisey, has been a highlight of her experience.

“Her class structure is easy to manage through, and she really makes you think. She always gives feedback that counters whatever you provide for an assignment in order to make sure you have thought about all angles,” she added.

Jada believes that the course has made a huge impact on how she interacts with people in the workplace.

“It really opened my eyes to addiction, depression, and many other things that affect people. And, when people can’t deal with these outside factors, it will affect them at work. You never know the full story, so take the time to listen, take the time to dig deeper, and know that you can make a difference in that person’s life just by letting them know that you are there for them,” she said.

Jada believes there should be more women in the OHS profession as they tend to notice little things.

“Our outlook, usually being vastly different from a man’s, can add great input into the (health and safety) programs that these companies are running.”

She says that while she feels outnumbered as a woman, and there is still a fight for equal pay, she does notice more women entering the profession.

“I think it’s hard for women because most of the time we are being put on projects that are mostly male-dominated.”

Jada is about eight months away from completing the SHEM program. She believes that with that diploma, in addition to CHSEP, she will be able to ask for a promotion or move up within another company.

She advises new and potential students to make time for their studies.

It can be hard to manage work, family, and school. Make sure you allow a certain amount of time each week so that you can fully study and absorb the information.

Once Jada earns her CRSP designation, she hopes to work in a management or Director of Environmental Health and Safety role.

“The education is going to be what helps get me there.”

Ready to get started?