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Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences

Education and Research Center (ERC)

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October 8, 2019: ERC Special Seminar Dr. Laurel Kincl

ERC Special seminar by Dr. Laurel Kincl, Associate Professor (alumnus of the UC-ERC program)

Safety Voice for Ergonomics (SAVE): a training intervention for masonry apprentices

Written by: Rachel Zeiler

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Pictured above is Dr. Kincl with her ERC mentor Dr. Amit Bhattacharya and his research team

Masonry workers in the US hold the highest prevalence of injuries due to overexertion throughout all construction jobs. Masonry is also second for the highest number of occupational-related lower back injuries. Dr. Laurel Kincl and her team of researchers decided to focus on educating masonry apprentices on proper ergonomic and masonry-related safety practices. Together, they came up with the Safety Voice for Ergonomics (SAVE) program. The purpose of SAVE was to educate masonry apprentices on ergonomic safety and the importance of using their voice to communicate and fix safety problems.

            SAVE consists of 7 training units, totaling to 3.5 hours of training. The training is a blend of slides, videos, discussions, other activities, and quizzes to engage the worker in the training. Unlike traditional safety training, SAVE engages workers in a few different ways. First, SAVE implements both traditional face-to-face teaching and “e-learning”, which is training by online, interactive modules through computers, tablets, and smartphones. SAVE also uses multiple, brief training units within one session to boost retention of the material. Refresher messages are sent out via text or email to remind the apprentices of safety practices. Finally, the SAVE program teaches workers about human anatomy and how to identify and control ergonomic risk factors, and how to use their “safety voice”.

            So far, the SAVE program has yielded positive reviews from both apprentices and the training instructors. Apprentices who completed a post-training survey agreed that the SAVE program was useful for improving health and safety, appreciated the quality of the information given, and said they would recommend the SAVE program to their co-workers. Over 80% of the apprentices said they had changed their behaviors after receiving training from the SAVE program.

            With the great success of the SAVE program, Dr. Kincl’s research team is continuing to educate more apprentices and hope to extend the program to more experienced workers and other construction trades.

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