headshot of Occupational Health and Safety Student Iman Leong

Student Spotlight: Iman Leong

There are many reasons Iman Leong decided to pursue a career in occupational health and safety: It pushes him to be more forward-thinking, anticipating hazards in the workplace and finding ways to mitigate impact. It challenges him to brush up on subjects such as chemistry, statistics and physiology. And, it allows him to apply his knowledge firsthand in the field, as opposed to being desk bound. But perhaps the most compelling reason, says Leong, a loss control specialist in risk management at State Compensation Insurance Fund, is the opportunity to help others prevent unnecessary pain and injury.  

Leong and colleague conduct fit testing of a respirator
Leong and colleague conduct fit testing of a respirator. (Photo courtesy)

Shortly after starting his career in occupational safety, his colleagues and managers recommended UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s (CPE) Workplace Health and Safety Manager Certificate Program. “The certificate program is the common denominator in our safety training background,” says Leong. He adds that he ultimately chose CPE’s program because of UC Davis’ esteemed reputation. “In a world full of for-profit degree mills and dubious safety training, it is with great confidence that I can apply my newfound knowledge into practice knowing that the training is legitimate.”  

Prior to entering the Workplace Health and Safety Manager Program, Leong’s experience and training primarily involved emergency preparedness, including natural disasters, fire and security threats. “The biggest challenge was branching off into the ‘safety universe’ consisting of very broad, numerous facets,” says Leong. Reading and interpreting laws and regulations, identifying and mitigating occupational hazards given real-world restraints, and understanding how human psychology affects the safety practitioner and the team were situations his previous training did not prepare him for.  

The instructors are active working professionals who provide a wealth of practical real-world knowledge.”

Since completing the certificate at CPE, Leong feels empowered to make a positive impact on his organization’s safety management system. “I hope to serve as an advocate for increasing communication and collaboration across the organization, be a safety resource and apply my knowledge to serve as a safety leader in the organization,” says Leong.  

He says his most valuable takeaway is the opportunity to network. “It was the chance to engage in discussion with the instructors (some with decades of experience) to go over unusual real-world problems and find practical solutions, and to meet other safety professionals from a variety of backgrounds who are willing to collaborate outside the classroom on common challenges,” Leong explains.  

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“For people new to the realm of occupational safety, the UC Davis certificate program provides a foundation from which to build upon by providing the knowledge and tools necessary to create a safety management program, investigate accidents, learn how to analyze regulations and, most importantly, prevent hazards to the extent humanly possible,” Leong says.  

Leong isn’t done growing as a safety professional, either. Next, he plans to expand his study of workplace safety to include a master’s in environmental safety and health and to earn his certification as a Certified Safety Professional.

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