When David Newman, M.P.H./M.E.S. ’96, was a student at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), he had no idea just how much his diverse course load would come in handy in his future career.
As Executive Director of Occupational Health and Safety for telecommunications giant Comcast, Newman handles a multitude of responsibilities. On any given day, he may be working on COVID-19 prevention policies, ergonomic programs for technicians, aerial work safety for line workers, injury data analysis and improving the company’s overall safety culture.
“I am responsible for developing and leading programs that prevent injuries and improve the safety of our workplaces as well as implementing occupational health programs,” said Newman. “It can be challenging to make change happen in a large organization. It takes time to convince others, get budgets approved and them implement programs across a huge scale.”
Newman is also a firefighter and EMT in the small town where he lives.
“I’ve been a firefighter and now fire lieutenant for 20 years,” said Newman. “I love helping people in our town and training our newer EMTs and firefighters. It’s a great way to have fun, get great experience and give back to my community.”
Newman speaks highly of the training and knowledge he gained at YSPH.
“The technical information I learned about industrial hygiene, toxicology, environmental health and epidemiology is applicable every day for me in my role,” Newman said. “Having a varied education including elements of infectious disease, international health and health policy has really helped me bring a diverse background to what I do now.”
Thinking back to his time at Yale, Newman said he has many fond memories of his YSPH experience.
“A couple that stand out for me are doing soil sampling for my thesis on lead contamination in Bridgeport, Connecticut (thanks to Liz Kemper for the help on the statistical analysis!), Dr. (Brian) Leaderer’s (M.P.H. ’71, Ph.D. ’75) environmental health classes and guidance, Professor Eric Mood’s (M.P.H. ’43) food safety classes, and all of the group projects I did with my incredibly bright and diverse classmates - many of whom I still keep in touch with and get public health advice from today!”
In his current role, Newman said he is particularly proud of implementing an ergonomics program for Comcast’s frontline field technicians that involves instructions on lifting, bending and carrying, as well as other strengthening and stretching techniques.
“I was involved with another related program that encouraged employees to report discomfort before it became an injury with lost time,” said Newman. “A physical therapist would then work with the employee to teach them stretches and sometimes even modify their work posture and habits. Seeing employees’ comments on how they’re in less discomfort, can do their jobs better, and are injured less is why I chose this career.”
Given his personal experience, Newman encourages YSPH students to embrace the many diverse and multidisciplinary programs offered by the school and to not be afraid of applying their newly acquired knowledge and skills in unique ways.
“When you are starting out, get a variety of experience - any experience - before deciding on a specialty,” Newman said. “For me, consulting was an ideal way to start because it gave me a variety of skills working with clients on such things as environmental compliance, auditing, industrial hygiene sampling, waste site remediation, emergency preparedness and compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. That prepared me for a 25-year career in environmental health and safety.”