Researchers in Washington have found that journey level plumbers who went through apprenticeship training have fewer work-related injuries and workers’ compensation claims.
The state’s Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention Program found that journey level plumbers certified between 2000 and 2018 with no apprenticeship training were 46% higher for total workers’ compensation claims compared to rates among those who had completed a plumbing apprenticeship.
Those with no apprenticeship training were 60% higher for disability claims.
Apprentice graduates experienced a greater decline in the rate of total claims between the five years preceding their certification and the years after their certification.
Greater rate reductions among journey level plumber apprentice graduates were also observed for acute injuries and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), although the decline in MSDs was not significantly different from the decline among journey level plumbers with no apprenticeship training.
‘Apprenticeships play key role in reducing injuries’
The researchers said they began this study knowing that workplace safety was an important component of apprenticeship training, but they wanted to know if that training resulted in fewer work injuries.
To find out, they linked Washington’s registered apprenticeship data, plumber certification data, employment data and workers’ compensation claims to compare claim rates among journey level plumbers by apprenticeship participation.
After reviewing the data, they concluded that “successful completion of a plumbing apprenticeship program is associated with fewer work injuries throughout the career of a journey level plumber.”
They found that “apprenticeships appear to play a key role in reducing work injuries among journey level plumbers, especially acute injuries.”
The researchers found there were practical applications for what they discovered through this study.
“Apprenticeships are an effective model for reducing workplace injuries,” the study said. “The mechanisms by which apprenticeship training improves workplace safety should be identified to better inform injury prevention efforts among apprentices as well as among workers outside of a formal apprenticeship arrangement.”