Magazine article Techniques

Occupational Safety & Health Competencies Are Life Skills for Cte Students

Magazine article Techniques

Occupational Safety & Health Competencies Are Life Skills for Cte Students

Article excerpt

Central to ensuring that career and technical education (CTE) students build the skills and knowledge to succeed in a workplace, is giving them the ability to make thoughtful decisions about completing a job task safely and to speak up when a job task is not safe. These are fundamental competencies for all workers and life skills necessary for youth entering the workforce.

Workers under age 25 suffer disproportionately from workplace injuries ("Occupational Inuries," 2010). When compared to adult workers, young workers have a higher threshold for risk-taking; are susceptible to peer pressure; are still developing both cognitively and emotionally; and have other unique characteristics that - compounded with their inexperience - may predispose them to workplace injuries (Sudhinaraset & Blum, 2010). In addition, newly hired workers are more likely to be injured at work than workers with longer job tenure (Bena, Giraudo, Leombruni, & Costa, 2013), and young workers are likely to be new hires multiple times a year.

Injuries have impact beyond physical harm. In its 2015 report, "Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job" the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that employers cover only a small percentage of the cost of workplace injuries and illnesses through workers' compensation. The majority of the costs are covered by injured workers, their families, private insurance, and state and federal programs (e.g., Medicaid) ('Adding Inequality," 2015). Out-of-pocket medical costs and lost wages are devastating for young workers contributing to household income or working to become independent.

While employers are ultimately responsible for protecting their workers, integrating occupational safety and health (OSH) training within CTE programs can have a lasting positive effect. One study, which followed students in France for two years after leaving a baccalaureate or apprenticeship program, found that students who received OSH training during schooling had two times fewer workplace injuries than those who did not (Boini, Colin, & Grzebyk, 2017). Providing CTE students with foundational OSH competencies empowers them to recognize dangerous conditions, speak-up and raise issues with their coworkers and supervisors, and work with their employers to improve workplaces and prevent injuries.

What We Know About Safety and Health Training in CTE Education Today

The industry has made a significant series of efforts to better integrate OSH competencies into CTE frameworks, standards and curricula. Schulte et al (2005) discussed efforts with the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (now AdvanceCTE) to incorporate OSHA and EPA standards into all career cluster knowledge and skills statements. More recently, in 2014, the United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA) added health and safety as a Tier 3 Workplace Competency in their Generic Building Blocks Competency Model. And, in 2017, NIOSH and OSHA worked with ETA to incorporate NIOSH's eight foundational OSH competencies into this block ("Building Blocks" 2017 ; Okun, Guerin, & Schulte, 2016).

These efforts helped lay the groundwork and can influence state-level standards, the primary driver for what is taught in CTE classrooms (Bush & Andrews, 2013). Few studies have focused specifically on OSH training in CTE. However, one study explored OSH training in construction-focused CTE programs; Bush and Andrews (2013) found that educators "are keenly aware of the need for OSH training, and are all doing some amount of classroom and hands-on training on OSH" While the requirements for and delivery of OSH training varied, the authors found that OSHA's 10-hour Construction Outreach Training Program course was "almost universal at the community college level, and growing at the high school level" They also provided extensive information about the methods and resources used by instructors to provide OSH training, including (Bush & Andrews, 2013):

* Classroom-based OSHA 10-hour Outreach construction class

* OSHA-authorized online 10-hour Outreach classes such as CareerSafe

* The National Center for Construction Research and Education's (NCCER) Basic Safety Unit

* NIOSH Talking Safety curriculum

* The OSHA's 11 curriculum, which includes participatory activities for the OSHA 10-hour

* The Young Worker Safety and Health Training for the Construction Industry for use in conjunction with NIOSH's Talking Safety activities

This study's results are not strictly representative of disciplines or career clusters other than construction. …

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