very often in a high-risk industry. In all of these cases, return to school for formal education as a full-time student is generally not a feasible option. Innovations like “executive” master’s degree programs that pack course work into a series of all-day weekend meetings have been one response. The On-the-Job Off Campus Program at the University of Michigan is one example of this approach to training working professionals. Students attend classes at the University for four days once per month for 22 months. Other concentrated programs, like the North Carolina Education and Research Center’s Winter and Summer Institutes, offer industrial hygiene technician and safety technician certificates for completion of six 1-week or half-week courses over a 3-year period. For people who are responsible for health and safety as an ancillary duty or who are contemplating a career change this may be a more appealing alternative than pursuing a degree or CIH/CSP certification.
The Internet offers another approach to the information needs of OSH personnel, and employers as well as those of workers. Both NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have been working hard to take advantage of the Internet’s vast potential for providing ready access to information, data, and tools for improving occupational safety and health. The OSHA website (www.osha.gov) has thousands of pages of regulations, publications, and other documents online, including the latest versions and updates of all health and safety standards. A huge advantage of accessing this information via the Internet is that ever more powerful and user-friendly search engines can be used to rapidly pull out all the documents of interest. An “expert adviser” is interactive diagnostic software that asks the user a series of questions and follow-up questions to determine whether, how, and which specific parts of an OSHA standard apply to the user’s activities. On the basis of the answers that the user gives, the adviser determines what information the user needs to know about the standard’s application to the user’s activities. The NIOSH website (www.cdc.gov/niosh) is also packed with useful information for the busy OSH professional. Searchable publications and databases such as the Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 1997b) and the Manual of Analytical Methods (Cassinelli and O’Connor, 1994) are supplemented by Health Hazard Evaluations, notices of upcoming meetings and conferences, descriptions of research and training grant programs, and links to a myriad of other websites. Listservers such as the Duke University Occupational Environmental Medicine Mail List Health (http://gilligan.mc.duke.edu/oem/occ-env-.htm) can be used to query hundreds of other subscribers on their experience with any aspect of OSH.
Another alternative to traditional classrooms is distance learning or distance education. Distance education and distance learning modalities