Teaching Agricultural Equipment Hazard Control to Engineering Design Students

  • Schuler, Ronald T.;
  • Wilkinson, Terry L.;
  • Chapman, Larry;
  • Skjolaas, Cheryl A.

We developed instructional materials for use by senior and graduate engineering students. The overall purpose was to improve awareness within the engineering profession and to encourage greater consideration of product safety in the design process. We prepared a short, "stand alone" instructor presentation on the fundamentals of hazard control, use of injury data, and how to redesign equipment for greater safety. We also developed a student workbook to accompany the instructor presentation which required students to apply the knowledge they received in the instructor presentation. The workbook layout was patterned after materials developed by Phillip Berger and Sam Gunto at the University of Kentucky for hazardous waste worker training. The instructor presentation and the student workbook were designed to be easy for instructors to insert into existing "main line" courses (i.e., non-elective) in view of the fact that engineering curriculums are already overcrowded.

The case study unit was entitled "Traumatic Injury Prevention In Equipment Design." The instructor presentation drew on principles of injury control, ergonomics, human factors, work physiology, and machinery safety. The student workbook involved solving actual hazard control problems in current work methods and equipment designs for post hole augers and post hole drivers. Students analyzed actual injury data for augers and drivers from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The presentation strategy and instructional content of the case study unit incorporated features supported in previous research. Limited, tightly-focused educational and behavioral objectives were identified before the instructor presentation and student workbook were developed. The instructor presentation was kept short (20 minutes) and designed for delivery by the course instructor or in a self-administered format by students themselves. The student workbook utilized participant skills in ap lying factual knowledge to new problems. Previous educational research has noted that training which focuses only on improving knowledge outcomes may fail to improve capabilities to correctly apply the knowledge in novel situations. The student workbook provided full and immediate feedback on errors. If instructors desired, the case study units could be assigned to students for completion as groups rather than as individuals. Previous educational research has shown that cooperative small group work is an effective strategy for both achievement and motivation, particularly for female, minority, and foreign students undertaking study of technical subjects. Although no formal evaluation has been undertaken, the case study unit has been used successfully with a number student and faculty audiences and is popular.

This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The authors noted above are from: L.J. Chapman, R.T. Schuler, C.A. Skjolaas and T.L. Wilkinson, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.

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