Evaluation of changes in knowledge and attitude among youth after a one-hour introduction to workplace safety and health: Safety Matters

J Safety Res. 2024 Jun:89:306-311. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2024.02.001. Epub 2024 Mar 5.


Introduction: Young workers in the United States are injured at higher rates than adults, a trend that has persisted for more than two decades. Despite known risks, young people enter the workforce with little-or-no preparation for the hazards they may face. In 2016, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and American Industrial Hygiene Association developed Safety Matters, a one-hour educational module to raise awareness of workplace safety and health among young people.

Method: A pilot project was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of Safety Matters to positively change workplace safety and health knowledge and attitude scores among a sample of 283 youth in Colorado. Train-the-trainer sessions prepared volunteer safety and health professionals to deliver Safety Matters with fidelity and to conduct the assessment immediately prior to and following the program.

Results: After receiving Safety Matters, participants had statistically significant (p < 0.001) increased scores for both workplace safety and health knowledge (Cohen's d = 1.12; large effect size) and importance (attitude) (Cohen's d = 0.51; medium effect size). Although univariate analyses showed knowledge and attitude scores significantly increased for all demographic groups examined, there were statistically significant differences in knowledge scores by participant age (p < 0.01), ethnicity (p < 0.05), and race (p < 0.001) and statistically significant differences in attitude scores by participant race (p < 0.001). However, when race and ethnicity were both used as predictors in a regression model, only race continued to predict statistically significant (p < 0.01) changes in knowledge and attitude.

Conclusions: This project introduces a promising, community-based model for a one-hour introduction to workplace safety and health on which future, job-specific safety training can be built.

Practical applications: Safety and health professionals can play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of young workers. Adapting health and safety programs to diverse youth populations may enhance program relevance and receptivity.

Keywords: Adolescents; Curricula; Prevention; Training; Young workers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Colorado
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Health*
  • Pilot Projects
  • United States
  • Workplace*
  • Young Adult