207962 Does the School-to-Work program protect teens from work-related injury

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kristina Zierold, PhD, MS , Epidemiology and Population Health, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, Louisville, KY
Savi Appana, MS , Department of Biostatistics, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Henry Anderson, MD , Division of Public Health, Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, Madison, WI
The School-To-Work Opportunities Act (STWOA) was passed to support high school youth in transitioning from school to career-focused work. In 2004, 71.8% of public high schools offered work-based learning programs for credit. STW programs provide the promise of creating a well-trained workforce; however, there needs to be an assurance that this workforce is trained in occupational safety and health in addition to their job duties. Since the inception of the Act, limited research has been conducted to assess occupational safety and health in STW programs.

A comprehensive questionnaire was administered to 8,085 high school students in Wisconsin.

Among the 6,810 students responding to the questionnaire; 514 (7.5%) reported being enrolled in the STW program. Compared to other working students, (n=3,027), STW students were statistically more likely to be injured at work (23.8% vs. 13.9%, p<0.001); have more severe injuries (42.7% vs. 26.8%; p=0.0014); and file a workers' compensation claim (28.4% vs. 16.5%; p=0.0053). When asked about safety training, STW students were significantly more likely to report receiving safety training compared to other working students (71.3% vs. 64.2%; p=0.0021).

This study is the first to assess the relationship between occupational safety and health and the STW program. Since the STW program is based on apprenticeship and job shadowing, we might expect that it is successful in reducing work-related injury; however, a disproportionate percentage of teens in the STW program are being severely injured. A much better understanding about the role of safety training in the STW program is needed.

Learning Objectives:
1. Define the role of the School-to-Work Program (STW) in teenage employment. 2. Describe the demographics of teens enrolled in the STW program. 3. Compare the occurrence of injury and the severity of injury in STW students to other working students.

Keywords: Youth at Work, School-Based Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I helped collect the data, wrote the current grant, analyzed the data, and have written papers on the subject.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.