The University of South Florida Sunshine Education and Research Center (ERC) joined the ensemble of ERCs across the nation in 1997. Its programs include Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Health Nursing, Occupational Medicine, Occupational Safety and Occupational Health Psychology, Continuing Education and Outreach, Safety Management, Pilot Research Projects, NORA Research Programs and Hazardous Substance Continuing Education Training. Each program in the ERC works to train professionals, in the areas of Occupational Safety and Health. The ERC programs promote interdisciplinary interaction among professionals with varying backgrounds.
The Sunshine ERC is located in Tampa, on Florida's west central coast. Florida is the fourth largest state and has some of the highest workers' compensation costs nationally. The type of key industries (e.g. construction, mining and agriculture) that are associated with dangerous work activities, and the type that causes excesses of occupationally related injuries, accidents, and diseases are very prevalent in Florida. The Sunshine ERC is unique because of its strong interdisciplinary activities; use of distance learning for education programs; programs addressing under-representation of minorities; research focus on NORA priorities; recognition as a state and regional resource in occupational safety and health; and demonstration of strong internal/institution support.
Through its diversified research endeavors, improvements in the safety of the workplace and reductions of work-related accidents, injuries, deaths and toxic exposures are anticipated. The results will be a healthier and more productive workforce with an enhanced quality of life. Research efforts of the Sunshine ERC support the NIOSH, National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) and these efforts emphasize:
The mission of the Sunshine ERC is to improve the health, safety, and well being of workers through developing diverse high quality trained OHS graduate professionals having interdisciplinary experience, conducting cutting edge research, and providing outreach services.
Thomas Bernard, Ph.D., C.I.H.