Outcomes of a safety and health educational intervention in auto body and machine tool technologies vocational college programs: the Technical Education Curricula for Health and Safety (TECHS) Study Journal Article uri icon

abstract

  • Technical Education Curricula for Health and Safety (TECHS) is a research collaboration between safety and health professionals and vocational instructors in three Minnesota colleges. Curriculum materials, including full and refresher modules with of classroom presentations, lab activities, homework, and quizzes, were developed for auto body collision technology (ABCT) and machine tool technology (MTT) programs. Curricula were implemented during the 2015-2018 academic years. Graduates' safety-related knowledge, skills, work practices, and workplace safety climate were assessed 1 year postgraduation using an electronic survey. Responses were received from 71 ABCT and 115 MTT graduates. Classroom presentations were used consistently throughout the study. Instructors cited a lack of time as the main barrier to using other materials (lab activities, homework, and quizzes). Graduates with TECHS instruction had significantly greater safety-related knowledge overall (both trades) as well as in two topic areas: eye and respiratory protection (ABCT) and hearing protection and machine guarding (MTT). Our data confirm that nearly all graduates consistently engage in practices such as use of safety glasses, hearing protection, and respirators, use of machine guards, material handling strategies. At 1 year postgraduation, MTT graduates' work practices related to machine guarding improved significantly. Graduates with TECHS instruction had improved in about half of the work practices, but statistical significance was not achieved. Graduates' self-reported work practices were not significantly correlated with their knowledge or skills. Work practices variability was best explained by graduates' attitudes toward safety rules and their rating of the workplace safety climate. TECHS findings confirm that classroom instruction alone has little impact on graduates' work practices. We propose institutions formalize their commitment to safety and health education by ear-marking teaching time for this subject and providing assistance to instructors to facilitate curricula integration. Instructors would benefit from learning more about trade-specific safety and health, and adult education teaching methods. Additional research is needed to understand how students' attitudes toward safety change during vocational college attendance and the first year of employment in the trade, explore implementation supports and barriers at institutional and instructor levels, and assess educational effectiveness beyond the end of the academic program. The entire curricula are available on the study website www.votechsafety.net.

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publication date

  • 2020