249481 Occupational health literacy and the risk of work-related injury among young workers in the US

Monday, October 31, 2011: 2:30 PM

Kimberly J. Rauscher, ScD, MA , Department of Community Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Douglas J. Myers, ScD , Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
Carol W. Runyan, PhD , Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, CO
Objectives: The objectives of this study are to measure occupational health literacy(OHL) among adolescents and determine whether OHL is associated with adolescents' risk of work-related injury. Methods: Survey data were collected in five schools across the US from 2,277 14- to 18-year-olds with work experience. Self-reported injury experience and items pertaining to OHL were gathered in a self-administered questionnaire. Three OHL dimensions were assessed and scored: 1) Access (number of channels through which work-related safety information was received); 2) Knowledge (number of correct answers to questions about child labor laws); and 3) Awareness (number of correct answers to questions about important health and safety concepts like the need for safety training). All three scores were summed to create an OHL score. Injury was measured as ever having had a work-related injury. Results: Adolescent workers showed a moderate level of OHL with a mean score of 14.5 (range:0-23). Mean scores on each dimension varied: Access was low at 2.9 (range:0-8), Awareness was moderate at 3.1 (range:0-5), and Knowledge was high at 8.4 (range:0-10). Preliminary analysis indicates that OHL (the logged value) was positively associated with higher work-related injury prevalence after adjusting for age, gender, race and socioeconomic status (OR 1.40, 95% CI=1.16, 1.68). Conclusion: The positive association between OHL and injury prevalence suggests that youth may have greater health and safety awareness and knowledge if they work in more dangerous jobs where injury risk is higher. Analysis is underway to examine the effect of greater OHL controlling for job hazardousness.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
1) To describe the level of "occupational health literacy" possessed by young workers ages 14 to 18 in the US. 2) To describe the relationship between "occupational health literacy" and work-related injury risk among youth ages 14 to 18.

Keywords: Injury Risk, Youth at Work

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am Principal Investigator on the study and have been researching adolescent occupational injury for over 10 years.
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.