September 14, 2018

Engaging Small Residential Construction Contractors in Community-Based Participatory Research to Promote Safety.

By Miguel Valdez Soto

Construction is a large employment sector with a high prevalence of small businesses. Despite the high injury rates reported for employees of small construction firms, these firms are under-represented in occupational safety research studies. Such studies are needed to understand barriers experienced by these firms and to examine ways to overcome them. However, challenges accessing and recruiting this hard-to-reach population are frequently reported. Traditional approaches of recruiting through unions or workers' compensation insurers may not be appropriate or effective for small construction businesses. Previous studies have demonstrated the value of academic collaborations with community-based organizations for recruiting participants from hard-to-reach populations for research studies. In accordance with the principles of Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), we formed a recruitment team comprised of staff from a local union, a community organization, and a community outreach team to recruit small construction contractors in Lawrence, MA. Media marketing strategies, participation in community events, exploring neighborhoods in search of ongoing residential projects, and partnership with vocational training institutions and building trade associations were some of the strategies implemented during this project. We recruited 118 contractors, supervisors, and foremen from more than 50 construction firms across the Greater Lawrence area to participate in an intervention project to reduce falls and silica exposure. The CBPR approach facilitated the development and implementation of recruitment strategies that resulted in the participation of a significant number of hard-to-reach small construction contractors.


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