Kayla C.: About My Internship at UW Environmental Health & Safety

About My Internship at UW Environmental Health & Safety

By Kayla C.

Kayla looking for confined spaces at the UW campus.

My Internship at UW Environmental Health & Safety is composed of two roles: Programming and Shadowing. The programming sector of my internship was the first step and took up a majority of my time. OSHA recently updated its Confined Space Regulations; therefore, UW EH&S needed to update their program to remain in compliance. It had been a while since the Confined Space program was last updated, and the program is now under a new owner. As an intern, I am assisting with a complete overhaul of the program.

To complete the overhaul of the program, we first started incorporating the new regulations into the written program. This consisted of multiple drafts which were reviewed many times. As the program is finalized, the supporting documents also need to be updated. This included various forms, FAQ pages, training materials and the department’s website. I am working on incorporating the updated documents into the final program update. I was surprised to learn how much writing takes place in the field of environmental health, and how many review stages some documents go through before they are final.

The second stage of my internship is auditing all of the confined spaces around campus. This entails locating old lists, reaching out to people with access to them, and then re-evaluating the spaces against the new regulations. This is a field intensive process and requires physically going out to spaces to assess for hazards. I enjoy this aspect of my internship a lot because I have the chance to put into practice all the training and paperwork that I’ve been working on.

Overall, my internship has been an eye-opening experience. Outside of my Confined Space project, when I’m in the office I am able to see all the different things that EHS specialists are able to do. There are many career-possibilities for an EHS and so many routes that can be pursued. Even if you are working at one organization, like UW, you can be involved with things like confined spaces, hazard analysis, air quality, water quality, fire safety, asbestos, etc. The possibilities are endless!

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