Public technical colleges enroll and educate more than half of the nation's 11 million technical students and play a critical role in providing young workers with the skills required to obtain high-paying employment in competitive job markets. However, technical colleges do not adequately preparing students to recognize and protect themselves from workplace hazards. After graduation, young workers in hazardous trades such as metal fabrication and auto collision repair are employed primarily in small enterprises where they rarely receive health and safety training. Hypothesis: Technical-college graduates who complete a program with competency-based health and safety training integrated into the curricula will be better able to identify workplace hazards and engage in safe work practices when compared with graduates who have not had this training.
Specific aims :
The Aims of this proposal are: (1) conduct a detailed analysis of technical college curricula for two trades - metal fabrication and auto-collision repair - to determine how to best incorporate competency-based safety and health training;(2) with input from faculty, students, and business owners, develop, implement, and evaluate the adoption of competency-based safety and health curricula;and (3) evaluate the effectiveness of, and compile feedback on new training materials by: (a) assessing student knowledge of, and skills related to, identification and remediation of workplace hazards;(b) collecting information on graduates'self-reported work practices;and (c) conducting focus groups. Methods:
These aims will be accomplished in a collaborative partnership with two public technical colleges. The training environment will be audited and current curricula will be assessed for adequate health and safety content. In conjunction with faculty, students, and industry, competency-based safety and health training will be developed. Qualitative and quantitative assessment will be conducted during educational programs. Follow-up assessments will be completed for three graduate cohorts one year after they enter the workforce;those with none (Group 0), one (Group 1), and two (Group 2) years of study under the new curricula. Data will also be collected on workplace safety programs and practices and safety climate in order to control for the effect of the worksite on work practices measures. Significance: This proposal addresses NORA priorities related to worker training as well as small enterprises. The status quo fosters minimal or no safety and health education within technical colleges and leaves graduates with little likelihood of ever benefiting from such training. Unlike most worker safety training that is short-term and offered in a stand-alone format;this proposal integrates delivery and assessment of safety and health knowledge and skills with work throughout a two-year curriculum. This approach helps to ensure a progressive mastery of essential skills. Innovation: This is the first effort to develop and evaluate competency-based health and safety training in technical education. Programs will be developed by a multidisciplinary team that engages industry partners. Long-term outcomes: This work provides a new model for skills-based health and safety competency training to improve safe work practices and reduce the risk of work-related illnesses and injuries.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research is relevant to public health by providing competency-based safety and health training in technical colleges. This will help a large, growing, and underserved segment of America's workforce acquire the skills and knowledge needed to reduce the risk of work-related injury and illness in hazardous technical trades. Once entering the workforce, most of these individuals will never benefit from safety and health training. Thus, this proposal is relevant to the NIH mission as identified in Healthy People 2020 to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses through prevention and early intervention and the NORA agenda to find new ways to address health and safety in small enterprises.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Safety and Occupational Health Study Section (SOH)
Program Officer
Frederick, Linda J
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Park Nicollet Institute
United States
Zip Code