Addressing literacy and numeracy gaps among workers in an OHS training program: a pilot study

Reasons for the study

Workers with poor literacy and numeracy skills may find it difficult to understand and apply occupational health and safety (OHS) training, potentially resulting in injuries and illnesses. This study aims to develop, implement and evaluate a pilot OHS training program to improve outcomes for workers with essential skills gaps. The Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) embedded essential skills training into the curriculum of a hoisting and rigging safety training program delivered by Local 506 of the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA). The Institute for Work & Health is assessing the impact of the program.

Objectives of the study

  • To determine the extent to which a redesigned curriculum that addresses essential skills gaps improves learning of the health and safety content and adherence to safe practices
  • To understand the experiences of trainees and instructors involved with the redesigned program in order to improve the process of modifying OHS training programs to address gaps in essential skills

Anticipated results/impact

If the pilot is successful, the process used to modify the training curriculum could be a model for improving other OHS training programs that serve a trainee population with essential skills gaps, thereby improving worker/workplace safety more broadly.

Related presentations

Project status


Research team

Ron Saunders, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
Curtis Breslin, Institute for Work & Health
Siobhan Cardoso, Institute for Work & Health
Morgane Le Pouésard, Institute for Work & Health
Karen Myers, Blueprint

Participating organizations

LiUNA Local 506 Training Centre
Infrastructure Health & Safety Association

Funded by

Ontario Ministry of Labour's Research Opportunities Program, Max Bell Foundation