Workplace Health and Safety ESOL Curriculum

This curriculum for use in the ESL classroom focuses on workplace health and safety.

J. L. Utech
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Massachusetts Worker Education Roundtable
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Target Audience

This curriculum offers lesson plans, complete with variation and extension activities, teacher notes, additional resources, and handouts, that focus on safety and health issues that may arise in the workplace. The lessons utilize authentic materials (e.g., OSHA forms) and base the discussions in students’ lived experiences. The curriculum does not focus on literacy, per se, but teachers can build those activities in to the already designed lesson plans. Another feature of this curriculum is that while lesson plans do build on one another, they can also stand alone so that teachers may also pick and choose lessons they want to use.

Required Training

A background in ESL methods is presumed.

What the experts say

The author has synthesized and simplified key information about workplace health and safety in a format that is easy for teachers to use in presenting lessons on this topic. While the curriculum is specifically designed for union classes in Massachusetts, it is valuable more generally to the field of adult education because it models learner-centered instruction, encourages teachers to adapt activities to the needs of learners’ in their classes, and provides suggestions and activities for teaching crucial health and safety content such as understanding workers’ rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and relevant sections of a union contract.

There are not too many materials, just enough, so the curriculum is not overwhelming in scope. Each lesson appears as if it can be accomplished in a realistic timeframe to meet achievable objectives which are stated at the beginning of each lesson. The curriculum includes many prompts and opportunities for learners to discuss important work issues in their own lives and to learn more about their rights and responsibilities related to health and safety on the job—within the comfortable environment of the classroom.  The resource list includes several participatory ESOL, adult education, and worker materials, so a user of this curriculum has ample references to dig deeper into the theory and practice of learner-centered, worker-related education.


  • A curriculum outline provides an overview of the topics. Lessons are presented in a clear straightforward way with a consistent format. Each lesson has sections on stated objectives, materials, activities andTeacher Notes. Such a format is easy to follow throughout the product.
  • The curriculum is intended for low-intermediate to intermediate levels, but lessons are adaptable in design. The Teacher Notes section after each lesson offers expansion ideas, follow-up activities and suggestions for varying the material.

To Consider:

  • Much of the language work in the Workplace Health and Safety ESOL Curriculum seems to be related to vocabulary. However, some of the target language (such as the union contract sample) needs a great deal of scaffolding to make it accessible. 
  • There is no guidance as to how to adapt the content for low or advanced level students.