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Follow-up to the Worker Safety Education Webinar

Thanks to everyone who joined us for today's webinar on Worker Safety Education for Adult Educators.  Our presenters shared a lot of information and resources to think about incorporating worker safety into the adult education classroom.  Annette Braam shared about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) related programs and grant opportunity:

Emily Doherty shared about OSHA training from the program management perspective, with the Jane Addams Resource Center, in Chicago and Baltimore.  Cynthia Peters shared some freely downloadable worker safety curriculum, from The Change Agent.   Lesson packet Four: Workplace Safety — Learn It and Teach It is aligned to the College and Career Readiness Standards, and is appropriate for ABE and intermediate level English Language Learners, and above.
We hope that you will take some time to review these resources, and ask questions of our panelists over the next few days.  We look forward to continuing the conversation with you on supporting learners' access to high quality safety education.
Mike Cruse
Career Pathways Moderator
Cynthia Zafft
Health Literacy Moderator


Erica Mourning's picture

Greetings everyone!  I have spent a bit of time reviewing the lesson packet Four: Workplace Safety — Learn It and Teach It.  I plan on teaching it in the very near future (starting Monday).  I also plan on sharing the materials with my colleagues. 

My question is:  Are there any ideas for lesson enhancers for that particular plan?  I think it is great, but wanted to ask to hopefully open some dialogue.



Cynthia Peters's picture

Hi Erica --

I hope others chime in too. Meanwhile, I can add a few things that we did in my class when I taught this lesson. And by the way, it turned into more of a "unit" than a lesson. It just went on and on. I look back and chuckle at how the thing I thought of as a "warm-up" ended up taking a few days!

1. The opening article, "I Got Sick from My Job," was a great way get conversation going. Everyone had stories in the class about ways that they got hurt or sick from their job. Also many had family members who had gotten hurt or sick on the job. This was a rich discussion with everyone participating -- quite passionately -- and it generated tons of vocabulary that you can record while people are talking and then add to Quizlet or develop a vocabulary practice for.

2. After all this discussion, you could get students to generate questions about their particular situations at work or about the wider context. How can I be safer on the job? What can I say to my supervisor? Whose responsibility is it to keep me safe? How can I convince my husband/son/mother to take x or y precautions at work? What can I say? What can I do? (You don't have to answer these questions. Put these questions in a "parking lot" -- visible to the class. Over the course of the lesson, return to the questions to see if they are getting answered. 

3. Use the discussion to develop some writing prompts. Or have students keep a journal about what they are learning. Ask students to interview each other about their workplace safety issues. Now they're getting to know each other, building community, using the vocabulary generated so far, taking notes on responses, and perhaps practicing speaking by reporting back to the class on the results of the interveiw.

4. Look up state laws related to workplace safety. The workers in my class all work at a hotel and so all were concerned about the safety of the cleansers they use. We discovered a Mass. bill that was making its way through the legislature that would permit only green cleansers at schools and day cares. I brought in the text of the law -- another hard document!! We went through it similarly to how we went through the MSDS sheets -- noticing the structure of the document, trying to zero in on the parts that mattered the most, etc. Then everyone wrote to their state rep. or senator expressing how they felt about the bill. Many got letters back. It was incredibly rich because students had to look up their legislator, and in the process learned a bunch of other stuff about voting, etc.

5. The presentation part of the lesson was another rich source of learning. I used google slideshow. Many students have children who have gmail addresses through their schools and are using google docs to get homework assignments, etc. They were so happy to have a chance to know more about it and have hands-on experience with it. Now they know what their children are talking about and what the schools are doing when homework and other info. comes home via google docs. Warning: it can be tricky to use google slideshow! Powerpoint is another fine option. 

Hope this is helpful! 

NOTE: The short video I point people to in the lesson plan seems to have DISAPPEARED. So sorry about that. I am looking around for something comparable but not finding anything right now. 

Erica Mourning's picture

I would like to know what training materials are used to help raise employees' reading levels.  This certainly peaked my interest.



Cynthia Zafft's picture

Hi Erica:

Great question, Erica.  Emily, you mentioned this data in the presentation.  Could you go over it again?  And, anyone who has been following on the data regarding contextualized learning and progress in basic skills, please chime in.

Cynthia Z

Emily Doherty's picture

Hey Cynthia,

In our Bridge Program, students improve an average of 3.1 grade levels (on the TABE Survey) in Reading over the twelve week program. Our students average a gain of 3.6 levels in Math (we have then take both the Computation and Applied sections).

Cynthia Zafft's picture

Thanks, Emily.  So, that seems as if most students are then well into the 9th+ grade level equivalent in Reading and maybe about there in Math?  That is so encouraging.

Cynthia Z

Emily Doherty's picture

Hi Erica,

We utilize the following books in our Bridge Program to teach reading:

Mastering Reading - Skills for Success/Manufacturing
Reading for Information - Workplace Skills

McGraw Hill Workforce Career Companion - Manufacturing

 We also utilize safety handbooks, materials from employer partners, and internally developed worksheets (with CNC and Welding vocabulary).

When we are teaching incumbent workers, we work with their employer to develop materials specific to their workplace and the participating employees' positions. This may include developing activities utilizing their internal documents, handbooks, and job orders.

David J. Rosen's picture


I wonder if the panelists -- and others -- could describe some education and training partnerships between adult basic skills program (including ESL/ESOL) and: companies, industry associations, and/or organized labor that include OSHA training. For example, in some parts of the country I have heard that there are partnerships with organized labor in the building trades. I also just read about a grant for refugee services to the Literacy Center of West Michigan for occupationally contextualized adult English as a Second Language (ESL) programming in the commercial construction trades. "Graduates of the 23-week program will receive an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour certification, a National Center for Construction Education & Research Core Construction certification, and a rough terrain forklift license....The Literacy Center will be partnering on the project with West Michigan Works!, Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. West Michigan Chapter (ABCWM), and Grand Rapids Community College's (GRCC) Workforce Training."

Are there other partnerships like these and, if so, could you briefly describe them, and tell us how they are funded, if they are.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

Program Management CoP


Michael Cruse's picture

The Aspen Institute recently released, "Communities that Work Partnership Playbook", which includes research on best practices and examples of community partnerships that are "working across workforce development, education, economic development, and business boundaries to create new talent development approaches". 

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

Michael Cruse's picture

According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, reaching workers entering the construction workforce is critical to ensuring that safe work practices are learned and practiced in the field. A well-established system exists for reaching those workers who come in through labor-management apprenticeship and training programs. Another pathway is through career technical education (CTE) programs.  Researchers from U.C. Berkeley and West Virginia University have been collecting information through surveys and site visits to understand how these construction programs are doing. Their new guide, "Your Construction Safety Program: Safe Students, Safe Workers," provides key results and promising practices, including descriptions of 14 essential program elements, along with specific action steps and resources for administrators and instructors.

Not sure how your program stacks up?  Take this brief assessment and find out how your program is doing, and where you may need to consider some improvements.

Take the 10-minute online assessment.  

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways / Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator