Applying Learning Theory to Safety and Health Training for Hispanic Immigrant Dairy Workers

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Abstract

We designed a safety and health curriculum for dairy immigrant workers aiming to increase knowledge, encourage safe behavior, and reduce worker communication inequalities to prevent occupational injury and diseases. The design is largely based on the Taxonomy of Significant Learning and incorporated behavioral and adult learning theories and principles of occupational hazard control. Trainings were implemented with 836 Spanish-speaking workers from 67 farms in Wisconsin. Sixty-seven percent of workers reported never being trained before in dairy safety, 65% of these worked in dairy for 5 or fewers years, and 26% of workers reported being ever injured while working on dairy. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the trainings suggest that our curriculum successfully increased worker knowledge and promoted contemplation of safe practices. The overall knowledge gain of 25% was statistically significant (p < .01). Workers recalled at least one key concept, expressed confidence of adopting at least one safety behavior, and mentioned their intention to communicate safety concerns to farmers. To our knowledge, this is the first Taxonomy of Significant Learning application to occupational safety and health education. Our curriculum can support dairy farmers’ compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s annual training requirements by providing our basic safety and health training to workers at early job stages.

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