NEWS | Oct. 18, 2021

NAVSAFENVTRACEN Receives COE Candidacy

By Amy Robinson, Naval Safety Center Safety Promotions

The Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center (NAVSAFENVTRACEN) reached a milestone Sept. 16 when the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE) approved the center’s request for candidate status, bringing NAVSAFENVTRACEN one step closer to accreditation.

The training center, which provides education and training for military and civilian Navy and Marine Corps personnel in occupational safety, industrial hygiene, environmental protection and emergency management, received the official notification and certificate Oct. 7, recognizing the center’s achievement.

More importantly, the Commission’s approval for candidacy allows NAVSAFENVTRACEN to move forward in the process of becoming a COE-accredited institution, which means the training center will be recognized for meeting or exceeding the COE’s criteria for educational standards and student achievement.

“I think the accreditation is an outstanding opportunity for the schoolhouse because it validates the world-class training we provide daily,” said Cmdr. Charles Wilhite, NAVSAFENVTRACEN’s commanding officer.

According to the COE’s website, www.council.org, “accreditation by the COE is viewed as a nationally honored seal of excellence for occupational education institutions and denotes honesty and integrity.”

Amanda Carter, NAVSAFENVTRACEN training support department head, said she is excited the Commission selected the training center for candidacy.

“It shows we have an institution worthy of accreditation, and I can’t wait to see what improvements we can make throughout the process.”

The next step on the path to accreditation requires the NAVSAFENVTRACEN team to attend several workshops during the COE’s annual meeting in November, which will be conducted virtually this year. After completing the workshops, the training center will begin the self-study phase.

“The COE candidate status is a pre-accreditation stage,” Carter said. “It’s where we go through the self-study process to make sure we align with the COE’s standards, making sure we’re in line with what an accredited organization should be and that we’re providing that quality of training to our students.”

Once NAVSAFENVTRACEN completes the self-study phase, several steps remain in the accreditation process. According to the COE’s website, the training center’s next step is to prepare a self-study report for the Commission, which can take six months to a year. After the report is completed, the COE will schedule a preliminary visit to approve the self-study report and confirm the preparations and agenda for the accreditation team’s visit. During this visit, which must occur within 24 months of candidacy status, Commission representatives will review NAVSAFENVTRACEN’s programs for compliance and note any areas of noncompliance in a report submitted to the COE. The training center will then prepare a formal response to the team’s report, acknowledging any findings and explaining how findings will be addressed. After the Commission reviews all reports, it will vote to grant accreditation, which must be renewed yearly by submitting an annual report.

Although this process will take time to complete, NAVSAFENVTRACEN’s accreditation will not only benefit the Navy, but all safety professionals within the Department of Defense.

“In times where it can be challenging for people to physically attend annual professional conferences and receive the 40 hours of continuing education required by every environmental, safety and health professional in the Navy, the Naval Safety Environmental Training Center will be able to provide the training to keep all of our DOD professionals certified,” Wilhite said.

Additionally, the NAVSAFENVTRACEN commanding officer said accreditation would potentially add college credits to every Sailor’s transcript, keeping in line with the Chief of Naval Operations’ priority of lifelong learning.

“And if this helps us to translate our training into credentials or college credits fleet Sailors can use to help them in their careers – while also increasing the safety of the fleet, I see that as a win-win for the Navy – and our customer.”