Completed Research

Evaluation of Smart Mark Safety and Health Training for Construction Workers (Completed – 2004-2009)

Rosemary K. Sokas, MD, MOH

University of Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Ph: (312)355-4497
: [email protected]

Research Team

Emile Jorgenson, MPH, Leslie Nickels, MEd, Weihu Gao, MS, Janie Gittleman, PhD, Kristin Rankin, MPH, Christina Trahan, CIH.

Not all safety and health training pro-grams are equal. To learn more about what constitutes elective training, Dr. Sokas conducted separate surveys of trainers and trainees in the construction industry. In the Web-based trainer survey, union-based outreach instructors were asked to evaluate materials used in Smart Mark, the OSHA 10-hour hazard aware-ness program designed for construction workers. Participants in union-delivered safety training completed a baseline survey and a follow-up telephone survey three months later.


  • Among 366 trainers, more than 80% identified falls from ladders and ergonomic hazards (bending, stooping, and lifting) as important concerns for their trainees.
  • More than one-third of trainers taught workers whose primary languages were not English.
  • Trainers estimated more positive effects of training on safety activities under workers’ control as compared with those under employers’ control.
  • Follow-up contact with trainers may be an indicator of training effectiveness, an informal means of workplace intervention, or both. This concept should be further explored. Of 175 trainees who participated in a base-line survey, 127 were U.S. born and 41 were born in Mexico. Safety knowledge and atti-tude improvements were measurable at three months in both groups.
  • Features of both union membership and training may affect safety behaviors. Further study should explore how this knowledge can be applied to reduce the disproportionately high rate of work-related injuries among foreign-born Hispanic workers.
Original Research Abstract:

This is a Pilot Intervention Project. The main objectives are to evaluate trainees who have completed the Smart Mark training program to determine whether impact on knowledge, attitudes and self-reported practices are statistically significant and lasting. In addition, the project will explore the feasibility of assessing most recent job safety climate and three-month self-reported hazard, illness and injury information.

Smart Mark is a hazard-awareness curriculum for the OSHA 10- and 30- hour training program for the members of Building Trades unions. The unionized construction industry uses approximately 4000 instructors in joint labor-management training programs at over 2,000 training centers nationwide. Smart Mark hazard-awareness training is frequently incorporated into the apprenticeship (or pre-apprenticeship) programs of building trades, and is presented differently to apprentices and to journeymen, and has been used to train nearly 200,000 workers.

CPWR, and its subcontractor, the UIC School of Public Health, will work with United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada , and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, to conduct process evaluation of Smart Mark 10 hour training for pre-apprentices, and journeymen in the Chicago training centers. 140 trainees from each of the two centers will then be recruited into an IRB-approved protocol to obtain interviewer-administered baseline and follow up information (at 3 and at 18 months) on knowledge, attitudes, practices, most-recent job safety climate, and self-reported illness and injury rates. Because of anticipated attrition, the total sample size is anticipated to be 200. Exploratory analyses will examine differences between trades, between various levels of training, and from baseline to follow up, in order to determine future sample size needs and critical factors.

Construction remains among the most hazardous of occupations, and both industry and labor are currently expending significant resources to provide training. Examination of the significant effects of the training may help to revise, expand, or otherwise improve both training programs and the measurement of their effects.