Health promotion and health protection in young workers Share This OHSU Content


Young workers account for 14% of the US labor force and have twice as many non-fatal injuries at work than older workers.  The primary method to reduce risk to young workers is to provide effective and relevant training. Although employers are tasked with providing safety training to their employees, such training is not always well accepted or appropriately designed to reflect the needs of a young audience new to the workplace.

The overall goal of this project is to improve health and reduce the incidence of workplace injury in this group of especially vulnerable individuals by way of an online, age-appropriate safety and wellness training. Promoting U through Safety and Health (PUSH) is combining NIOSH’s, Talking Safety – Youth @ Work http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/talkingsafety/ with wellness and communication topics that are important for achieving total worker health. The training curriculum will be translated into an online interactive format, which will lend to the effectiveness and usefulness of the training among this population.

This summer, PUSH researchers partnered with the Aquatics Department of Portland Parks & Recreation (PPR). Portland Parks & Recreation Aquatics employs young workers as lifeguards, swim instructors, water fitness teachers, and managers. 

Researchers surveyed young workers from Portland Parks and Recreation about wellness and safety related issues, such as sleep habits, nutrition and diet, previous work experience, risk behaviors, and social media habits.

In addition to the survey, employees participated in group activities during their weekly staff meetings. OHSU student interns, Hannah White and Eric Serres, developed 12 interactive activities related to wellness, safety and communication. Pool managers were given a script and materials for a brief activity, which they presented to their staff.

After the activity, young workers could earn points for their pool by logging on to the PUSH Tumblr page to complete additional activities and answer questions about the activity. Based on the feedback from the young workers, researchers will modify these activities into the online training curriculum.

Next Steps

PUSH Researchers will spend the next 9 months analyzing the data from the survey and activity feedback, and developing the online training modules. Next summer, the effectiveness of the online training will be evaluated as a method for employers and schools to introduce basic concepts of workplace health and safety and to promote healthful and safe behaviors.


·   Parish M, Serres, E, White H, Montgomery D, Elliot D, Rohlman DS. (October 2012). Characterizing the Young Working Population:
Setting the Groundwork for Health and Safety Interventions.Oregon Public
Health Association.
Serres E, White H, Parish M, Elliot D, Montgomery D, Rohlman DS. (August, 2012). PUSH: Promoting U through Safety and Health. CROET Summer Intern Poster Session. ** First place winner

Serres E, White H, Parish M, Elliot D, Montgomery D, Rohlman DS. (August, 2012). PUSH: Promoting U through Safety and Health. Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition.
·   Parish M, Rohlman DS. (April, 2012). Tapped In: Using Social Media to Reach Young Workers. Oregon Health & Science
University, Office of Science Education Opportunities (SOAR).

PUSH-Logo11 Portland Parks Pool
Portland Parks and Recreation Pool

TalkPortland Parks and Recreation Training 

Diane RohlmanPUSH Researchers Discussing Data

Eric SerresEric Serres presents poster


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GOSH 2011
Students listen to lecture at GOSH 2011 Student Day

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