West Virginia University Extension Safety
and Health provides education and skill development courses that can help
people change or improve their careers, all without significantly altering
their daily lives.
Kelby Antill graduates from the Certified Safety Specialist program on Oct. 20, but the journey there was anything but linear.
He had a vision for his life—he knew for as long as he could remember that he wanted to start his own business. So, he got his associate degree in small business management and heavy equipment operations. Once he graduated, the idea of starting his own business lost its luster, and he struggled to find a job in his field.
He branched out and tried a few different jobs in construction, contracting and heavy equipment operation, but none of it really felt right.
Then, he got hired at Williams Energy as an operation technician, working on their pipeline and well pads, where he stayed for 10 years. He was temporarily put in a mentor role for Williams’ policies and procedures, and because of his success with this, his supervisor suggested he look into becoming a certified safety specialist.
After connecting with the safety supervisor at his company, Antill was referred to WVU Extension Safety and Health, and he just so happened to know a familiar face there. Tiffany Rice, associate professor for WVU Extension Safety and Health, knew Antill from a previous class he took, and she was more than happy to help.
“What stood out most about Kelby was his enthusiasm to make a transition into the field of safety,” said Rice. “He started taking classes right away and his field experience was a welcomed addition to our class conversations. I’m excited for Kelby to finish his final course and complete the program.”
Once he began the courses in the Certified Safety Specialist program, the corresponding job opened at his company, and because of his initiative in getting certified, he was offered the position.
Since then, his whole purpose has changed. Now, his focus is to ensure the safety of everyone working there. In his new role, Antill develops and implements site-specific operating procedures, investigates and mitigates incident reports, coordinates internal safety assessments, leads training and much more.
“It’s very important work and there’s a lot to learn, but I chose WVU Extension Safety and Health because there are so many resources available and a lot of people who are willing to help you and guide you through the program,” Antill said.
For some classes, there is an in-person portion so participants can learn tactile skills that they aren’t able to get online. Antill attended a confined space training, OSHA 2264, in Morgantown, which taught him important life-saving skills for his new role.
“Furthering the knowledge is the number one thing here. OSHA law is extensive and being able to understand the rules and where to find them is crucial,” said Antill. “This class has taught me a lot about how to interpret what OSHA expects from us while also gaining valuable hands-on experience.”
This program, as well as others through WVU Extension Safety and Health, offers a mix of both in-person and virtual course options. This allows for flexibility in the duration of the program, so it is more accessible to people who have established careers.
“Scheduling courses has always been extremely easy; I really like the video conferences. It allowed me to continue my job and take the certified safety specialist courses at the same time,” Antill said. “That’s something my supervisor and I really liked. I'm able to do this certificate program at my own pace, and it doesn’t require a lot of time away from work, so I could really multitask and do both.”
WVU Extension Safety and Health prides itself on this kind of flexibility. Offering opportunities to complete classes in different formats allows more people to access these programs.
“Safety and Health certificate programs are designed with the working professional in mind. The ability to take courses at your own pace appeals to our clientele, so students can make career moves while maintaining their current role,” said Rice.
The Certified Safety Specialist program is just one of many types of workforce training available. WVU Extension Safety and Health offers trainings and programs to help individuals lead safe, prosperous lives – including more than 40 OSHA courses covering everything from basic workplace safety to specialized safety trainings, as well as health care continuing education opportunities through the Shirley M. Kimble Training Center.
To learn more about what WVU Extension Safety and Health Extension offers, visit https://extension.wvu.edu/community-business-safety/safety-health.
If you want to learn more about WVU Extension, visit extension.wvu.edu or follow @WVUExtension on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.
CONTACT: Sydney Keener