Allyson O'Connor

Project title: Meeting the Challenges of Reaching Low-Wage Workers Using Community Health and Safety Trainings

Degree: MPH | Program: Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) | Project type: Thesis/Dissertation
Completed in: 2017 | Faculty advisor: Noah S. Seixas


Community-based occupational health trainings offer an innovative approach to reaching underserved populations who may have inadequate access to more traditional methods of health and safety education. The community-based organization (CBO) partners in this project maintain established connections to low-wage worker communities and are best suited to influence hard-to-reach workers. The goal of this collaboration between CBOs and the occupational health and safety expertise at the University of Washington (UW) was to design an interactive and innovative occupational health and safety training empowering low-wage workers in a wide array of industries to make improvements to their work situations. The curriculum, “Safety Strategies as Work: Job Hazards and Your Right to a Safe Workplace,” concentrates on the connection between work and health, educates workers on their rights, introduces skills to identify job hazards and recognize effective safety strategies, and promotes resources for taking action to reduce harm. This training program focused on increasing low-wage workers’ awareness and degree of concern surrounding the connections between workplace hazards and health, so they can take action and begin to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses. Through a community-engaged curriculum development process, this training applies occupational health and safety training principles with CBOs’ intimate knowledge of community needs to meet the challenge of reaching low-wage workers through health and safety trainings. URI