NIOSH, WVU bring Youth@Work Training to West Virginia Schools

August 23, 2016
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Katie Shahan (304)285-5805

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is pleased to announce a collaboration with West Virginia University (WVU) and the Monongalia County School System to bring Youth@Work: Talking Safety, a curriculum in workplace safety and health, to local 8th grade students.

Many young people are unaware of their employment rights and the potential hazards that exist in the workplace. Recent statistics show that 1.6 million U.S. youth age 15–17 are employed. Although work provides many benefits for young people, it can also be dangerous. Every year, nearly 59,800 teens ages 15 to 17 get injured on the job seriously enough to seek emergency room treatment. Recognizing this, NIOSH formed a partnership with WVU and the Monongalia County Middle Schools to implement an educational program directed at teaching foundational workplace safety and health knowledge and skills to young workers before they enter the workforce. Youth@Work: Talking Safety is a fun, free and engaging curriculum that helps educate young people about the basics of job safety and health.

“We know that younger workers are likely to be inexperienced, and they often enter the labor force unprepared for hazards they may face,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Schools are an effective place for delivering skills related to workplace safety and health, so we’re excited to join WVU and the Monongalia County School System in bringing the critical knowledge and skills young people in West Virginia need to stay safe and healthy on the job.”

The “Talking Safety” curriculum is designed to raise awareness among youth about workplace safety and health, and teach topics such as how to:

  • identify hazards at work
  • prevent injury and illness
  • identify emergencies at work and deciding on the best ways to address them
  • communicate with other workers—including people in authority—when they feel unsafe or threatened

“The mission of the WVU School of Medicine is to improve the health and safety of West Virginians, so we were pleased to join NIOSH in an outreach program to introduce the Talking Safety curriculum to our teachers, and ultimately their students in Monongalia County,” said Linda Vona-Davis, Ph.D., director of the Biomedical Masters of Health Science at West Virginia University School of Medicine. “Our goal is to reach other counties in the state.”

The Talking Safety curriculum will be introduced in five middle schools across Monongalia County. The curriculum consists of six main (and five supplementary) lessons is customized for each U.S. state and territory—including West Virginia—to address their respective child labor rules and regulations. The program also contains a free, companion video.

As part of a 4-year, NIOSH-led research and evaluation project, Talking Safety has already been introduced to more than 6,000 8th graders in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools the fourth largest school district in the country. Preliminary results from that evaluation indicate significant shifts (pre- to post-test) in eighth graders’ knowledge and attitudes about workplace safety and health. NIOSH is also collaborating with the Oklahoma City Public Schools and Connecticut Technical High School System to integrate Talking Safety into their curricula.

For more information about the NIOSH Youth@Work: Talking Safety curriculum and to download the West Virginia-specific edition.

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH.

Page last reviewed: August 23, 2016