This diffusion research study is an investigation of the barriers and facilitators faced by high school teachers in adopting and sustaining a youth-oriented occupational safety and health (OSH) curriculum. Over 200,000 teens are injured on the job annually and one dies every five days from a work injury. Having safety training can help prevent these injuries yet studies consistently show that many teens do not receive such training from their employers. Recognizing this gap, NIOSH scholars have called for increased efforts at integrating OSH information into high school curricula, suggesting it is an effective way to transfer knowledge and raise OSH awareness among youth. A review of the OSH dissemination/translation literature provides little or no evidence on how best to do this. The proposed study aims to fill this gap. The NIOSH sponsored curriculum, Youth @ Work: Talking Safety (Talking Safety), is the most current and thorough program available in the US to provide youth with the fundamental skills and knowledge they need to help keep themselves safe at work. The activities have been extensively pilot tested, and in 2004, the curriculum was evaluated in sixteen schools in ten states and found to be effective in producing knowledge gains and behavior change. While efforts to incorporate OSH topics into high school curricula are ongoing, there are no published data available on the success or sustainability of these efforts. With the ever increasing and often conflicting demands placed on teachers, the viability of their implementing an OSH curriculum in their classrooms, in a sustainable way and with fidelity, remains a question. Through telephone interviews with a sample of 338 high school teachers trained in the Talking Safety curriculum, we will achieve the following specific aims: 1) Determine whether teachers trained in Talking Safety have adopted the curriculum (i.e., have ever used it in their classrooms) and if so, describe their level of sustainability (i.e. continued use) and fidelity to the curriculum activities and materials;2) Describe the barriers faced by teachers in adopting the curriculum, sustaining its use, and doing so with fidelity, and their suggested strategies for overcoming these barriers;and 3) Identify the individual-, classroom-, and institutional-level factors associated with teachers': a) initial adoption, b) sustained adoption, and c) fidelity to the curriculum activities and materials. The ultimate goal of this project is to learn how future efforts to translate the Talking Safety curriculum into high schools can be successfully achieved through understanding the everyday realities and challenges commonly faced by teachers. This research focuses on two National Occupational Research Agenda priorities: traumatic injury and young workers as a special population at risk. In accordance with NIOSH's Research to Practice initiative, this study will be the first to offer recommendations for translation of an OSH curriculum into the high school classroom, thereby helping to move prevention strategies into action and ultimately contribute to a reduction in adolescent occupational injuries.

Public Health Relevance

This diffusion research project will examine factors influencing the adoption and sustainability of a youth- focused occupational health and safety curriculum by high school teachers. It will be the first to provide recommendations for translation of this type of curriculum into high school classrooms, thus helping to move prevention strategies into action and ultimately contribute to a reduction in adolescent occupational injuries.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Safety and Occupational Health Study Section (SOH)
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Sanderson, Lee M
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West Virginia University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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