A Hands-On Approach to Giving

Corey Briggs, a 1980 URI alumnus, studied zoology back when the Biological Sciences Center still “looked like an intercontinental ballistic missile center,” explained Briggs. Back then, he had been the rebel in his family, choosing to attend URI over the family alma mater UMass.

“When I came in, I knew I wanted to do something with marine pollution,” said Briggs. “In the 70’s there were some really, really bad oil spills and this paired well with my marine science and marine biology interests.”

After graduating, Briggs went on to study public health at the University of South Carolina which allowed him to work as an industrial hygienist right after graduate school. His successful career, focused on occupational health, safety and hazmat emergency response and training, has spanned multiple companies and locations around the globe. Today, Briggs heads the Industrial Hygiene Safety Practice for the New England region at ENVIRON, an international environment and human health consulting firm. There he helps to address industrial and commercial health and safety issues for workers around the world.

“It’s funny how it all comes back to URI,” said Briggs. “Because I had to take microbiology, chemistry, and physics in school, it all fits together.”

In appreciation of his undergraduate education and to assist current students interested in safety, Briggs offered to teach a course- Environmental Hazards and Response- for any students aiming to work in environmental or occupational health and safety. The course, formally labeled as GEO 590, has now been offered every spring since 2013. Each student who completes the course and passes the final, mock-trial exam earns an OSHA HAZWOPER certificate and three FEMA training certificates.

To make this course happen, Briggs not only provides hours of his expertise but he also coordinates the procurement of the course’s safety equipment. Last year alone, he collected over $20,000 worth of gifts from various safety organizations in order to give his students a hands-on experience.

“It’s all about making connections,” explained Briggs. “Connecting former students and safety and health corporations with URI helps to perpetuate the giving and the program’s expansion.”

For CELS students, having the OSHA HAZWOPER certification is a huge draw for employers. According to Briggs, it allows a company to avoid the cost and inconvenience of having to train new employees on company time.

“It’s been very rewarding for me,” said Briggs. “It’s been a way for me to pass on my expertise and knowledge to young people coming up the line.”