Student Spotlight: Karen Meistas
Construction is an inherently dangerous profession. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the construction industry saw 971 workplace fatalities in 2017 (OSHA, 2019).
Having worked in the construction industry for 25 years, Karen Meistas was no stranger to workplace accidents. “I’ve seen firsthand the effects of an injury to an employee, their family and the company,” Meistas said.
It was after a workplace accident and a meeting with an OSHA consultant, in fact, that Meistas decided to pursue an education in health and safety.
“The [OSHA] consultant is the person who actually told me about the program at UC Davis,” she said. “I decided to enter the Workplace Health and Safety Manager Certificate Program, so I could assist companies in keeping their employees safe through training and education.”
Meistas was already familiar with workplace safety concepts. As an operations manager for a construction company, she was responsible for, among other things, new hire safety training, safety meetings and maintaining safety equipment. But she wanted to concentrate her studies and her career on helping others prevent future accidents.
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“One of the most valuable lessons I got out of the program was the development of a ‘work-safe culture,’” she said. “It can be challenging when there is pressure to get work done quickly and on budget, and there’s a perception that safety can restrict or slow down the project. Seeing the value in the cost of safety versus risky short cuts was eye opening. Dollar for dollar, safety always wins!”
Since earning her certificate, Meistas landed a new job with another construction firm as a field office manager, and she credits her health and safety certificate in helping her get the position. “I discussed my goals and desires to have more concentration in a safety role, and they are very excited to see what I can bring to the table with my prior experience and newly obtained certification from UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education,” she said.
As Meistas begins a new chapter in her career, she’s grateful for the program and the work-relevant education and personal fulfillment it provided her. “I would recommend this program because not only is it applicable to employment, but it enriches your personal life with knowledge.”