Margaret Cary

Project title: Effective Training as a Function of Worker Participation

Degree: MS (Thesis) | Program: Industrial Hygiene & Safety (IH&S) | Project type: Thesis/Dissertation
Completed in: 1993 | Faculty advisor: Gerald van Belle


Since 1983, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has required employers to communicate to workers about the hazards of chemicals in their work areas, and about the means of reducing such hazards through use of personal protective equipment (PPE), safe work practices and engineering controls.

Although training is federally mandated and considered essential to any preventive approach to health and safety, very few studies have evaluated the relative efficacy of worker training techniques. The majority of existing studies examine the impact of a particular type of training on one group of workers. For example, several studies have evaluated the effect of training and positive reinforcement on workers. Other studies have reviewed the impact of participatory teaching techniques. The studies found that employee training, regardless of technique, improves workers' knowledge of hazards and use of safe work practices.

The three methods compared in this study represent a continuum of student participation: from no participation (lecture teaching technique), to some participation through trainer-trainee interaction through qquestions and answers and discussion (interactive teaching technique), to maximum student participation through small group exercises and peer (worker) trainers (peer teaching technique or peer taught group). The sessions involving the lecture and interactive teaching techniques lasted approximately an hour. The instructors for the peer teaching technique covered the same test material in one hour as part of a longer ( 3 1/2 hours) hazard awareness session. The study subjects were spray painters at a large manufacturing company. The lecture teaching technique was in use at the facility, while the peer teaching technique was under serious consideration for plant-wide use. The interactive technique was used in this study for the sake of comparison.