Youth Occupational Health and the Social Construction of Knowledge in the Occupational Health and Safety Curriculum in Newfoundland High Schools
This study is a response to the need for research on occupational health and safety (OHS) and the recent expansion of formal OHS training programs and its outcomes in relation to rural youth.
Data will be collected in a multi-method approach (content analysis, classroom observation and semi-structured interviewing) to examine the social construction of OHS within Newfoundland high schools and analyze potential biases in the curriculum.
This study will compare student demographics, focus areas within the curriculum and classroom instruction with social patterns of rural youth employment in Newfoundland, issues identified by instructors and compensation claim patterns made to the Workplace Health Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) in the past five years by rural and urban youth.
The goal is to demonstrate that an individual's understanding of health, safety and risk are not formed within a vacuum but are influenced by an ever-changing body of knowledge affected by variables, such as formal OHS education and training.
Two main questions guide this study:
(1) what constructions of workplace health, safety and risk are included in Newfoundland's high school OHS curriculum?
(2) are there discrepancies between the official course curriculum, classroom instruction and wider social patterns of risk and rural youth employment in Newfoundland?