Objectives This project developed and evaluated an occupational health and safety intervention utilising culturally appropriate popular education (CAPE) approaches to train immigrant dairy farm workers with low-literacy and limited English proficiency and reduce workplace hazards. An extensive bilingual health and safety training curriculum was developed and the community health worker (CHW) model, not previously used in dairy, was employed.
Method Dairy farms were randomised to receive either training only (control) or training and CHW (intervention). Surveys were administered to farmers (employers) and randomly selected workers at baseline and 12 months. Up to two workers from each farm in the intervention group were trained to become CHWs and their activities were monitored for one year.
Results 836 Spanish-speaking workers from 68 farms were trained. 34 farms were assigned to the control group. 52 workers from 34 intervention farms were trained as CHWs. Results from the training assessments showed statistically significant (p < 0.05) change increases in worker safety knowledge (range 17%–34%). 60% (n = 9) and 58% (n = 11) of farmer survey respondents from control and intervention groups, respectively, reported observing worker behaviour changes a year after the training. There were no significant differences between the control and intervention groups in safety knowledge and behaviour changes. However, 97% (n = 30) of CHW survey respondents reported that intervention activities were helpful in reducing hazards on the farm. 74% (n = 20) of CHWs and 81% (n = 13) of farmer survey respondents rated the CHW program as “good” or “excellent”. Only 6% (n = 2) of CHW survey respondents reported that their coworkers never used their safety recommendations within the last year.
Conclusions CAPE approaches increased the safety knowledge of immigrant workers and are associated with behaviour changes and hazard reduction. The CHW program provides a way to disseminate safety information to coworkers and is positively rated by both farmers and workers.
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