Georgia Tech gives students an early lesson in workplace safety

To increase job-safety training and awareness among younger Americans, scientists from the Georgia Tech Research Institute have joined with OSHA and other groups to introduce health and safety training to Georgia high schools. The aim: to ensure that young workers grasp the basics of job safety before they ever reach the workplace.

10/15/2007


As part of an effort to increase job-safety training and awareness among younger Americans, scientists from the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have joined with OSHA and other groups to introduce health and safety training to Georgia high schools.

GTRI
The aim: to try to ensure that young workers grasp the basics of job safety before they ever reach the workplace.

GTRI instructors and others have already taught OSHA job-safety classes at three Georgia high schools, and more schools are scheduled to receive instruction. The effort stems from a 2006 agreement between OSHA, GTRI, Georgia schools and other groups to make safety and health training more available to the state’s students.

“Today, it’s an effort for many people in the workforce to remember safety basics %%MDASSML%% for example, to put their safety glasses on when working with chemicals,” said Michelle L. Dunham, a research scientist in the Occupational Safety and Health Division of GTRI’s Electronic Systems Laboratory. “We want to make it automatic for kids joining the workforce to take those kinds of precautions %%MDASSML%% the same way they always put on a seatbelt in a car because that’s what they’ve grown up doing.”

Students attend a 10-hour course that’s team-taught by OSHA, Georgia Tech instructors and industry representatives. The modular course covers general safety and health information as well as instruction pertaining to students’ areas of work specialization.

“There are lots of different modules, and depending on the school, they’ll vary,” Dunham said. “We’ve started out teaching students going into the construction trades, but the course could be helpful to students in other study areas, such as automotive and medical services.”

To date, GTRI instructors and others have taught the 10-hour course at three Atlanta area high schools %%MDASSML%% Maxwell High School of Technology in Lawrenceville, McEachern High School in Powder Springs and Dekalb High School of Technology-North, in Dunwoody. More than 100 students have completed the classes.

Those graduating receive the OSHA 10-hour card, which can give them an advantage with employers wanting to comply with OSHA regulations.

The course is rigorous, Dunham notes. Missing even a single class means a student does not receive a 10-hour card. “We decided that this was an adult learning process,” she said. “Students had to learn that this was like being on a job.”

Dunham, an industrial hygienist, explains that the Georgia Tech Safety and Health Program also works directly with industry. Georgia Tech staff members perform on-campus training and consultation at the OSHA Training Institute Education Center, and also at job sites throughout Georgia and the Southeast.

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