Foundational workplace safety and health competencies for the emerging workforce

Source: Andrea H. Okun, Rebecca J. Guerin, Paul A. Schulte, Journal of Safety Research, In Press- Uncorrected Proof, Available online 6 October 2016
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From the abstract:
Introduction: Young workers (aged 15–24) suffer disproportionately from workplace injuries, with a nonfatal injury rate estimated to be two times higher than among workers age 25 or over. These workers make up approximately 9% of the U.S. workforce and studies have shown that nearly 80% of high school students work at some point during high school. Although young worker injuries are a pressing public health problem, the critical knowledge and skills needed to prepare youth for safe and healthy work are missing from most frameworks used to prepare the emerging U.S. workforce.

Methods: A framework of foundational workplace safety and health knowledge and skills (the NIOSH 8 Core Competencies) was developed. The framework was aligned with the Health Belief Model (HBM) and the Core Competencies were mapped to the individual HBM constructs.

Results: The proposed NIOSH Core Competencies utilize the HBM to provide a framework for foundational workplace safety and health knowledge and skills. An examination of how these competencies and the HBM apply to actions that workers take to protect themselves is provided. The social and physical environments that influence these actions are also discussed.

Conclusions: The NIOSH 8 Core Competencies, aligned with one of the most widely used conceptual frameworks in health behavior practice, fill a critical gap in preparing the emerging U.S. workforce to be cognizant of workplace risks and to participate in, and benefit from, safe and healthy work.

Practical applications: Integration of the NIOSH 8 Core Competencies into school curricula is one way to ensure that every young person, before he or she enters the workforce, has the foundational workplace safety and health knowledge and skills to be cognizant of risks on the job and to participate in, and benefit from, safe and healthy work.

Highlights
• Most career readiness initiatives are missing foundational workplace safety and health skills.
• The NIOSH 8 Core Competencies fill a critical gap in preparing the emerging U.S. workforce.
• The NIOSH framework of eight core competencies is grounded in the Health Belief Model.
• The NIOSH 8 Core Competencies are portable to all jobs and industries.
• The NIOSH 8 Core Competencies are transferable to non-work settings such as homes and schools.