Occupational Safety

(BRECKENRIDGE, Texas) – Community and business leaders in the Breckenridge area learned firsthand how important safety is on the job.

Texas State Technical College recently hosted a lunch-and-learn event to spotlight the Occupational Safety and Environmental Compliance program available at the Breckenridge campus. 

One local business executive knows how important having the program available locally has been for him.

Derrick Whitt, chief executive officer of 3G Energy Solutions, had one of his employees enroll in the program and has already seen a dividend.

“It has been so beneficial for my employee because you are more likely to remember how to do something when you learn it with the hands-on approach,” he said. “Things go more smoothly when you have someone who knows what they are doing on the job.”

Whitt said environmental and safety technicians will always be in demand, especially in West Texas.

“Companies cannot operate without a safety officer,” he said. “This is a growing industry, and having this program in Breckenridge is awesome.”

Whitt said his safety employee showed passion for the environmental side of his business. That was the main reason that he wanted her to take classes.

“She showed a lot of interest in the safety side of what we do. She has been able to learn so much, and that is thanks to what is available,” he said. “TSTC has a convenient and accessible location to provide this training.”

During the event, TSTC instructor Teresa Purcell demonstrated some of the equipment that students train with on a weekly basis. 

Alumnus Michael Bufkin is proud to call TSTC his alma mater and see the program’s growth.

“TSTC has advanced with the technology,” the 2005 TSTC graduate said. “This program has come a long way since I was in it, but it is good to see it growing.”

Bufkin said he enrolled while serving as a firefighter in Breckenridge to learn different aspects of the safety field. He said it paid off when he had to respond to different situations.

“I was able to get plenty of exposure when it came to different scenarios we had to dispatch to,” he said. “Teresa does a good job of letting students know what to expect.”

Martin Knudsen, TSTC’s statewide department chair of the program, which offers an Associate of Applied Science degree, talked about different aspects that students learn at the Breckenridge, Fort Bend County and Waco campuses.

He said students become proficient in the requirements for federal and state regulations, and in advising management on how to correct problems.

“The lower the incident rate means the higher the productivity,” he said. “Your key role as a safety officer is to educate your business on how to be safe. I have seen many of our students become very successful in this field.”

Knudsen said occupational health and safety technicians are always needed in Texas, especially in the construction industry. According to onetonline.org, by 2028 the need is expected to grow by 16% around the state.

“We are the people who lower the incident rate,” he said. “We pay for ourselves.”

Registration for the fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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