It is an article of faith among Laborers that health and safety training actually reduces workplace injuries and limits workers’ compensation claims, but no studies have attempted to document this claim.

Now, in a study just released, researchers at the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights (CPWR) – with help from the LHSFNA – have proven the connection. They examined the training and workers’ compensation claim records of union construction workers and found that “participation in safety and health training programs significantly reduced the workers’ compensation claim rate by 34 percent.”

The 1993 and 1994 training and claims records of 8,568 workers in Washington state were tabulated. Based on course titles, the safety and health training hours for each course and the starting dates of courses, the compensation claims of workers with and without safety and health training were compared. Among workers with training, 21.1 percent filed claims while 29.1 percent of those without training filed claims.

Not surprisingly, construction workers age 40 and younger were 17 percent more likely to be injured than those over 40. The rate for male construction workers was 1.67 times that of their female counterparts.

Interestingly, the report found no statistically significant difference in claim rates based on the number of hours of safety and health training.

The lead researcher on the study was Sue Dong at CPWR. Other contributors were Rose Men, Risana Chowdhurry and Scott Schneider. More information is available from CPWR (301-578-8500).

[Steve Clark]