3
The Changing Workforce

ABSTRACT. Projected changes in the labor force of the next decade will result in a workforce with a larger proportion of workers over age 55 and larger proportions of women, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Women and older workers have lower injury and illness rates than the labor force as a whole, although injured older workers take longer to return to work. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandated reasonable accommodation for workers with a disability, and the number of employed persons with a severe disability grew tremendously in the 1990s. The committee concludes that all aspiring occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals must be made aware of ethnic and cultural differences that may affect implementation of OSH programs. In addition, the committee believes that OSH programs are social as well as scientific endeavors and that health care disciplines and professionals should reflect the social makeup and the diversity of thought and experience of the societies they serve, so it will be important that members of all racial and ethnic groups be actively recruited. In addition, education in all OSH professions will need to include instruction on changes in the physical and cognitive abilities of older workers, the interaction of disabilities and chronic diseases with workplace demands, and communications skills to reach minority workers, workers with low levels of literacy, and those for whom English is a second language. A knowledge of and willingness to work with mass media may be required to reach workers at home as well as at work.

Many of the changes expected in the U.S. workforce in the next de-



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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel 3 The Changing Workforce ABSTRACT. Projected changes in the labor force of the next decade will result in a workforce with a larger proportion of workers over age 55 and larger proportions of women, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Women and older workers have lower injury and illness rates than the labor force as a whole, although injured older workers take longer to return to work. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandated reasonable accommodation for workers with a disability, and the number of employed persons with a severe disability grew tremendously in the 1990s. The committee concludes that all aspiring occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals must be made aware of ethnic and cultural differences that may affect implementation of OSH programs. In addition, the committee believes that OSH programs are social as well as scientific endeavors and that health care disciplines and professionals should reflect the social makeup and the diversity of thought and experience of the societies they serve, so it will be important that members of all racial and ethnic groups be actively recruited. In addition, education in all OSH professions will need to include instruction on changes in the physical and cognitive abilities of older workers, the interaction of disabilities and chronic diseases with workplace demands, and communications skills to reach minority workers, workers with low levels of literacy, and those for whom English is a second language. A knowledge of and willingness to work with mass media may be required to reach workers at home as well as at work. Many of the changes expected in the U.S. workforce in the next de-

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel cade will be continuations of trends already well under way. For that reason, the committee’s analysis of future changes likely to affect the training of OSH personnel begins with a review of prominent demographic trends of the last few decades. Among the significant trends discussed in this chapter are the rapid growth in the number of Hispanics and Asians in the labor force and the continued increase in women’s share of the workforce. The aging of the baby boom generation has also increased the number of older workers in the labor force. The primary source of data for this chapter is the Bureau of Labor Statistics, especially its periodic data collections such as the Current Population Survey. Many of these data are directly accessible at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website (http://www.bls.gov/oshhome.htm), but many of the tables and figures are the result of a specific request and can be replicated only by contacting the Bureau of Labor Statistics and asking for a tabulation of the specific data in question. REVIEW OF PAST WORKFORCE CHANGES Several developments have been important contributors to the labor force changes of the past few decades. Among such factors are the completion of the entry of the baby boom generation into the workforce and the impact of the smaller birth cohort that followed the baby boomers into the workforce. In addition, the continued entry of women into the labor force over the past few decades has profoundly affected the distribution of men and women in the workforce. The third important workforce development over the past few decades has been the increased immigration of Asians and Hispanics into the United States and their subsequent entry into the workforce. A closer look at each of these elements of labor force change should provide a better understanding of likely future labor force developments. Overall, the workforce growth in the most recent 10-year period (1988 to 1998) has been both in numerical and in percentage terms slower than that in the previous decade (an increase of 16 million [10 percent] workers in the period from 1988 to 1998 compared with an increase of 19 million [12 percent] from 1978 to 1988). This slowing in the rate of growth of the labor force reflects the much smaller size of the birth cohort that followed the baby boomers into the workforce. Labor force change has also been influenced by the fact that although the number of women in the workforce is still growing faster than the number of men, the gap between the growth rates of these two groups has narrowed appreciably.

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel Age The significant difference in the sizes of the two birth cohorts—the baby boomers and the group that followed them—has had and will continue to have a pronounced effect on the age distribution of the workforce. Over the past decade, for example, there has been an absolute decline in the number of workers in the labor force under age 25 (Figure 3-1). Conversely, the most significant workforce growth during the 1990s has been among workers 25 to 54 years of age, reflecting the aging of the baby boom generation. Gender Women’s share of the workforce has been increasing for several decades as their pattern of labor force activity more and more mirrors that of men. Thus, women increasingly enter the labor force at a young age and become permanent labor force participants. As a consequence of this long-range change, women’s share of the labor force has been growing steadily. However, in the most recent decade growth has slowed, reflecting the fact that the women’s share of the labor force has already reached significant proportions. Women’s share of the labor force had by 1998 grown to nearly 46 percent. A related change in women’s labor force participation has been that, increasingly, women with children have been working. Women were formerly well represented in the labor force before they had children or after their children had completed school. That is no longer true, as shown in Table 3-1, which indicates that the labor force participation of women FIGURE 3-1 Age of civilian labor force, 1988 and 1998 (see Table 3-4 for sources).

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel TABLE 3-1 Percentage of Mothers in Labor Force, 1975–1998, by Age of Youngest Child* in March 1973     Mothers with: Year All Mothers Children Ages 6–17 Children Ages 3–5 Children Aged < 3 1975 47.3 54.8 44.9 34.1 1980 56.6 64.3 46.8 41.9 1985 62.1 69.9 59.5 49.5 1990 66.7 74.7 65.3 53.6 1995 69.7 76.4 67.1 58.7 1996 70.2 77.2 66.9 59.0 1997 72.1 78.1 69.3 61.8 1998 72.3 78.4 69.3 62.2 *Children are a woman’s own children and include sons, daughters, adopted children, and stepchildren. Not included are nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and other related and unrelated children. SOURCES: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, March Supplements, selected years. with children under age 3 reached 62.2 percent by 1998. Women’s labor force participation patterns have also changed in another way in that in the past women tended to withdraw from the labor force for childbearing; that is no longer the pattern. Consequently, there was a distinct drop in women’s labor force participation rate during years of peak childbearing. That is no longer the case. Race and Ethnicity The composition of the workforce by race and ethnicity has also undergone profound changes over the past few decades. These changes have been the result of increased immigration, particularly among Asians and Hispanics, and of the higher birth rate among Hispanics. Because of the rapid changes in the proportion of other groups in the workforce, white non-Hispanics’ share of the workforce, which was 74 percent in 1998, had shown a decline of over 5 percent since the mid-1980s. Although their share of the workforce has been declining, the number of white non-Hispanics in the labor force is still growing, but the rates of growth are slower than those of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians and Others.1 The share of the last two groups in the workforce in particular has 1   Bureau of Labor Statistics categories. The committee uses the term African-American whenever possible because that is the term preferred by members of that group, but uses

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel FIGURE 3-2 Minorities in the civilian labor force, 1988 and 1998 (see Table 3-5 for sources). shown very rapid growth. Hispanics’ share of the labor force by 1998 had grown more than 14 percent and was rapidly approaching Blacks’ share of the workforce (Figure 3-2) (see also Table 3-5 later in this chapter). Disability One factor that could be important to the training needs of OSH personnel in the future is the disability status of the population. The Bureau of the Census, in its periodic survey of income and program participation, provides a brief review of the disability status of the population and the impact that this has on employment. The range of disability included in the survey and the level of employment of each of these groups are shown (Table 3-2) for two periods of time. Not only is the employment of those with disabilities lower but their employment is also significantly affected by the severity of their disability. Furthermore, although the employment rates of both groups increased from 1991–1992 to 1994–1995, the rate of increase was faster for those with disabilities and was fastest for those whose disabilities were most severe (a 27 percent increase in the number employed over this 3-year period). These changes came during a period when the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act was     the term “Blacks” when discussing Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The “Asian and Other” labor force group includes Asians, Pacific Islanders, Alaskan Natives, and Native Americans.

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel TABLE 3-2 Employment of Persons Ages 21–64 Years, 1991–1992 and 1994–1995   1991–1992 1994–1995 Group Number Percent Employed Number Percent Employed All persons 144,778 75.1 149,396 76.2 With no disability 117,194 80.5 119,902 82.1 With any disability* 27,584 52.0 29,467 52.4 Severe 12,568 23.2 14,219 26.1 Not severe 15,016 76.0 15,248 76.9 With a mental disability     6,012 41.3 Uses a wheelchair 495 18.4 685 22.0 Does not use a wheelchair, has a cane, crutches, or a walker for ≥6 months 1,108 17.6 1,609 27.5 Unable to perform one or more functional acts     6,841 32.2 Unable to see words or letters 563 25.6 568 30.8 Unable to hear normal conversation 324 58.2 358 59.7 Unable to have speech understood 122 24.4 119 27.7 Unable to lift/carry 4.5 kg (10 lbs.) 3,028 22.3 3,017 27.0 Unable to climb stairs without resting 3,516 20.5 3,736 25.5 Unable to walk 3 city blocks 3,182 20.8 3,547 22.5 *In this survey a person was considered to have a disability if the person met any of the following criteria: (1) used a wheelchair, (2) had used a cane or similar aid for 6 months or longer, (3) had difficulty with a functional activity such as seeing or hearing, (4) had difficulty with an activity of daily living such as bathing or dressing, (5) had difficulty with an activity of daily living such as going outside the home or using the telephone, or (6) was identified as developmentally disabled or as having a mental or emotional disability. Those aged 16 to 64 were considered disabled if they had a condition that limited the kind and the amount of work that they could do. SOURCE: Bureau of the Census, based on the Survey of Income and Program Participation. taking place, but it is not possible to separate the effects of this act from the effects of a favorable economic climate in the 1990s that improved employment opportunities for all groups. Particularly during the last decade, the favorable economic and employment climates have benefited not only those with disabilities but also immigrants and low-skilled individuals in the labor force.

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel Literacy The National Center for Educational Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education in 1992 conducted the National Adult Literacy Survey (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1993). That survey revealed that 40 million to 44 million adult Americans (21 to 23 percent of the adult population) fell in the lowest level of reading proficiency. Many adults with this level of literacy could perform only simple, routine tasks involving brief and uncomplicated texts and documents. Others were unable to perform even these types of tasks, and some had such limited skills that they were unable to respond to the literacy survey. A number of factors explained why so many adults demonstrated English literacy skills at the lowest proficiency level. Twenty-five percent of those in the survey who performed at the lowest level were immigrants and may have just been learning English. Nearly two-thirds of those who performed at this level had terminated their education before the completion of high school. One-third were older than age 65, and more than one-quarter had physical, mental, or health conditions that kept them from participating fully in work, school, or other activities. The results of the literacy survey are very important to determining the training needs for future OSH personnel, who must be trained to deal with workers with all levels of literacy, particularly given that labor force trends predict continued growth in the labor force participation of groups such as immigrants from which workers with low levels of literacy are more likely to be drawn. Research (Chiswick and Miller, 1998) has demonstrated that language proficiency is related to employability and income: language proficiency is greater among immigrants with higher levels of schooling, longer duration in the United States, and younger age of immigration and is lower among those who live among others who speak only their native language. Economic Trends Before turning to an examination of future labor force developments, it may be helpful to briefly review economic trends. Economic trends influence labor force developments, and these in turn are important determinants of future economic developments. One measure is real disposable income per capita. This is a measure of the income available on average to everyone in the population after adjustment for inflation and taking into account the effect of taxes. It is one measure that is used to show changes in the standard of living over time. Table 3-3 shows that disposable income grew steadily over the period from 1986 to 1998, and the economic expansion underlying that growth no doubt played a significant role in some of the employment trends

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel TABLE 3-3 Real Disposable Per Capita Income, Selected Years, 1986–1998, and Projected to 2010 Year Per Capita Income 1986 $16,939 1988 $17,650 1996 $18,989 1998 $19,790 2010 $23,120   SOURCES: Office of the President (1999) and Bureau of Economic Analysis (1999). Projections to 2010 are by the Committee to Assess Training Needs for Occupational Safety and Health Personnel in the United States, Institute of Medicine, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projected trends for 1996 to 2006. discussed above. The rate of employment of minorities, for example, has often been hit harder by recession than the rate of employment of the majority population, and there may be less demand for older workers in a less robust economy. A LOOK TO THE FUTURE What will be the labor force changes in the future, particularly in the period to 2010? In many ways this period will be affected by the same population changes that have had profound influences on the labor forces of recent decades. Discussing the labor force of 2010 requires only a relatively modest level of speculation, and the committee believed that 2010 was sufficiently distant to give some sense of the labor force of the future but not so far in the future that the potentially profound impact of unforeseen technologies would be overly influential. Overall Changes The growth of the labor force will continue to increase, but at a slower rate of growth, reflecting the fact that the new entrants into the workforce will be drawn from smaller birth cohorts than those from which the labor force was drawn from earlier. In 1998 the labor force had reached more than 137 million. By 2010 that number should reach more than 155 million, but this increase of 18 million would reflect a growth of only slightly over 1.0 percent a year—or about one-half the rate of workforce growth

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel achieved in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This slowdown in the rate of growth reflects both the smaller size of the birth cohorts reaching labor force age and the fact that such a large share of women are already in the workforce that they no longer constitute the major source of new entrants to the labor force that they have been over the last two decades (see Table 3-5). Age The number of people in the youngest group in the labor force (those 16 to 24 years of age), which had declined in the 1990s, should begin to increase after 2000, although only modestly. This reflects the fact that the children of the baby boom generation make up a somewhat larger birth cohort than the group slightly older than them. Because of this slightly older but smaller birth cohort, absolute declines in the number of people in the labor force aged 25 to 44 years are expected to take place in the decade ahead. The age group with the most rapid growth in the next decade will be that consisting of people aged 45 to 54—the baby boom generation—the oldest of whom will be nearing retirement age by 2010. Another important question is the longer-term prospects for labor force participation of those age 65 years or older; that is, has there been a change in the average age of retirement? Evidence is clear that the long-term trend toward earlier retirement has stopped. Evidence for a reversal, however, is mixed: the 1994 labor force survey that found more older workers was redesigned, and the subsequent 4 years of data are not enough to signal a clear long-term trend. Gender Women’s share of the workforce, as noted earlier, has grown steadily and has already reached a high level. Therefore, even though the number of women in the workforce is expected to grow slightly faster than the number of men, women’s share of the labor force is expected to increase only from 46 percent in 1998 to almost 48 percent by 2010 (Table 3-4). Race and Ethnicity Although the rate of growth of participation in the labor force by all racial and ethnic groups is expected to slow in the decade ahead, the pattern of more rapid growth for minority groups than for non-Hispanic whites is expected to continue. In particular, rapid rates of growth are projected for the Hispanic and the Asian and Other groups. The number of Hispanics in the workforce should be equal to the number of Blacks

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel TABLE 3-4 Civilian Labor Force, 1988, 1998, and Projected to 2010*   1988 1998 Projected 2010 Group No. (millions) Percent No. (millions) Percent No. (millions) Percent TOTAL 121.7 100.0 137.7 100.0 155.4 100.0 Men 66.9 55.0 74.0 53.7 80.9 52.1 Women 54.7 45.0 63.7 46.3 74.5 47.9 16 to 24 years old 22.5 18.5 21.9 15.9 25.7 16.5 25 to 54 years old 84.0 68.0 98.7 71.7 103.3 66.5 >55 years old 15.1 12.4 17.1 12.4 26.4 17.0 White 104.8 86.1 115.4 83.8 128.0 82.4 Black 13.2 10.8 16.0 11.6 18.2 11.7 Asian and other 3.7 3.0 6.3 4.6 9.2 5.9 Hispanic origin 9.0 7.4 14.3 10.4 19.5 12.5 Other than Hispanic 112.7 92.6 123.4 89.6 135.9 87.5 White, non-Hispanic 96.1 79.0 101.8 73.9 110.4 71.0 *The civilian labor force includes all employed individuals in the economy (except the uniformed military service) and all who are actively seeking employment (or the unem-ployed). The projections include estimates for the undercount of the population in the Census of Population and also include estimates of future immigration, both documented and undocumented. SOURCES: Historical data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey, annual averages, selected years. Projections are an extension of the Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for 1996 to 2006 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1997) to 2010 by the Committee to Assess Training Needs for Occupational Safety and Health Personnel in the United States, Institute of Medicine. sometime in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century. Although the number of Blacks in the workforce will be growing slightly faster than the average, their share of the workforce can be expected to increase only moderately above their current level of 11.5 percent. The Asian and Other group is expected to be the fastest growing group in the labor force, and its share should approach 6 percent by 2010. Labor Force Entrants and Leavers Important insights into future labor force developments can be seen by using the facts presented above to calculate who will be entering the labor force and who will be leaving the labor force in the first decade of the 21st century. As noted earlier, the labor force is expected to grow by

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel nearly 18 million during the period from 1998 to 2010. However, that increase is the net result of more than 47 million who will be entering the workforce and nearly 30 million who are expected to leave the workforce over the same period (Table 3-5). Importantly, the gender and the racial and ethnic compositions of those coming into the labor force and those who are expected to leave the labor force are much different. To illustrate, of those who are expected to leave the workforce during the period from 1998 to 2010, 57 percent are men and 43 percent are women. Entrants, on the other hand, are expected to be nearly equally divided between men and women. Furthermore, the Hispanic and the Asians and Other groups represent nearly one-quarter of the entrants expected over the period to 2010 but make up only about 11 percent of those who will be leaving the labor force. If Blacks are included with the other two minority groups, more than 40 percent of the entrants to the workforce from 1998 to 2010 are projected to be Black, Hispanic, or Asian and Other (Figure 3-3). Disability It would be desirable to have data on the employment prospects for those with disabilities in 2010, but no such projections have been prepared. The levels of employment of persons with disabilities have increased over the last decade, and that improvement in the employment prospects for those with disabilities will probably continue. However, as noted earlier, at least part of that improvement is attributable to the favorable economic climate of the 1990s. Consequently, a less favorable economic climate could slow that trend in the future. IMPLICATIONS OF CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS FOR OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES AND ILLNESSES The labor force changes projected for the next decade imply a workforce with a larger share of workers over age 55, a slightly larger share of women, and a rapidly growing share of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. The rate of employment of persons with disabilities has risen sharply since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 and may well continue through the next decade. What, if any, implications do these trends hold for occupational injuries and illnesses and, ultimately, for the training needs of those who deliver OSH services? In one important dimension of occupational injury and illness from 1993 to 1996, women incurred less than 1/10 of the job-related injuries and about 1/3 of the nonfatal injuries and illnesses that required time off from work (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998b). Of the 32,000 job-related fatalities that occurred from 1993 to 1996, only 8 percent occurred among

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel TABLE 3-5 Total Civilian Labor Force, Entrants, Leavers, and Stayers, 1988, 1998, and Projected to 2010 (number, in millions)   1988 1998 2010 Group Total Force Entrants Leavers Stayers Total Force Entrants Leavers Stayers Total Force Total 121.6 35.0 19.0 102.6 143.7 47.5 29.8 107.9 155.4 Men 66.9 18.4 11.4 55.6 74.0 23.8 16.9 54.1 80.9 Women 54.7 16.6 7.7 47.1 69.7 23.7 12.9 50.8 74.5 White* 96.1 24.4 15.8 80.3 101.8 28.0 20.4 81.4 110.4 Black* 13.0 4.6 2.0 11.0 15.6 7.4 6.1 9.5 16.9 Hispanic 9.0 6.3 0.9 8.1 14.3 7.1 1.5 12.8 19.5 Asian* 3.6 2.8 0.3 3.2 6.0 5.0 1.8 4.2 9.2 *Each of these is the non-Hispanic portion of this labor force group. SOURCES: Historical data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey, annual averages, selected years. The projections to 2010 are by the Committee to Assess Training Needs for Occupational Safety and Health Personnel in the United States, Institute of Medicine, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for 1996 to 2006.

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel FIGURE 3-3 New entrants to the labor force projected from 1998 to 2010, by race and ethnicity, as a percentage of total new entrants (see Table 3-5 for sources). women, even though they represented nearly 50 percent of the workforce. However, women were more likely than men to be injured in an incident of workplace violence; although women were the victims in only about one-third of the nearly 2 million annual incidents of workplace violence reported by the U.S. Department of Justice (1998), 65 percent of the nearly 23,000 reported assault-related injuries were incurred by women. Assaults are also the leading cause of workplace fatalities for women. About 70 percent of the nonfatal assaults resulted in lost work and occurred in nursing homes, in hospitals, or in the course of social service, all of which are industries that are projected to grow very rapidly. The increase in women’s share of the workforce thus suggests the possibility of declines in the numbers of injuries and illnesses, albeit with the important exception of workplace violence. However, as gender barriers continue to erode over time and the distribution of jobs between men and women becomes more similar, the distribution of fatalities, injuries, and illnesses between men and women may also become more similar. A second implication for the OSH community lies in the fact that the 10 million Americans ages 55 and over who work for wages and salaries in the private sector are one-third less likely than younger workers to be hurt seriously enough to lose time from work. However, when they are injured seriously enough to lose time from work, older workers typically

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel require 2 weeks to recover before returning to work, twice the recuperation time that younger workers need—a median of 10 days for those involving workers over age 55 compared with a median of 4 or 5 days for workers under age 35. The reasons for this are that workers over age 55 both sustain more especially disabling injuries than younger workers and take longer to recuperate from similar injuries (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1996). Since the number of workers in the over age 65 age group is projected to grow as a share of the workforce as the aging baby boomers move into it in increasing numbers, there are likely to be fewer injuries and illnesses, but the injuries and illnesses will be more severe ones and will require longer recuperation times. OSH professionals involved in case management and back-to-work programs need to be aware of this difference, which is one example why age-specific information on physical and cognitive capabilities should be included in the future training of OSH professionals. In regard to the other demographic trend, that is, that Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians will make up a larger share of the workforce, the types of data needed to make a reasonable estimate of the effects of that trend on workplace injuries and illnesses do not exist. Although data on the number of injuries and illnesses by race and ethnicity are available, the information necessary to calculate the rates of injuries and illnesses—namely, hours worked by race by industry and occupation—are not available. It is safe to say, however, that any factor, be it cultural assumptions and habits or low levels of comprehension of the English language, that impedes communication of health and safety information is likely to increase the number of workplace injuries and illnesses. IMPLICATIONS FOR TRAINING NEEDS OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH PERSONNEL The changing demographic makeup of the workforce is an important element in determining the training needs of future OSH personnel. Clearly, the racial and ethnic compositions of future entrants to the workforce will be different from those who are currently in the labor force. Trainers must be cognizant of the fact that new workforce entrants are more likely to be members of a minority group, women, and immigrants with various levels of English proficiency and with low levels of literacy. Also, the minority groups entering the labor force tend not to be distributed uniformly across the country. These changes are important to both the education and the recruitment of future OSH personnel. All aspiring OSH professionals must be made aware of ethnic and cultural differences that may affect implementation of OSH programs (for example, distrust of health care professionals). In addition, the committee believes that OSH

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Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade’s Occupational Safety and Health Personnel programs are social as well as scientific endeavors and that health care disciplines and professionals should reflect the social makeup and the diversity of thought and experience of the societies they serve. It will therefore be important that members of all racial and ethnic groups be actively recruited, and that geographic areas where rapidly growing minority groups are having a major impact on the labor force have substantial numbers of minority OSH personnel. None of the professional societies that the committee relied on for demographic information collected data on race, but committee members who regularly attend OSH professional meetings reported that an observer could not fail to note the paucity of persons of color. In addition, even though the employment rate for those with disabilities has been improving, it is still significantly below the rate for those who have no disabilities. Continuing efforts may be necessary to sustain and enhance these improvements. The fact that a sizable portion of the adult population has a low level of literacy poses important issues as well. The changes discussed in this chapter seem to call for new or significantly different training directed at the worker as well as the workplace. Certainly, OSH professionals will increasingly need to be familiar with the aging process and the interaction of disabilities and chronic diseases with workplace demands. In addition, the training must emphasize communications skills so that OSH personnel can reach workers with low levels of literacy and those for whom English is a second language.