TRADE NEWS RELEASE
April 26, 2002
Contact: Layne Lathram
Phone: (202) 693-1999
OSHA Announces Plans to Improve Identification
of Hispanic, Other Immigrant Worker Fatalities
Goal to Reduce Injuries, Deaths Among Non-English-Speaking Workers
WASHINGTON -- OSHA will soon begin to collect data on country of origin and primary language capability for all workers involved in fatality and other serious accident investigations, John L. Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, announced today.
The agency will also for the first time begin to collect site-specific information on construction projects where many immigrants and other workers die every year. Henshaw made the announcement at a Worker Memorial Day ceremony commemorating the workers who died during the last year.
"The disproportionately high number of work-related deaths suffered by non-English-speaking -- including Hispanic -- workers is of grave concern to us," Henshaw said. "These workers are among the most vulnerable in America. To improve their safety we must clearly identify the underlying problems and trends contributing to the situation."
The new data collection will enable OSHA to analyze language and country of origin information to determine what role language barriers and other risk factors play in fatalities and other workplace accidents. The agency will then use the information to determine what specifically must be done to improve safety for these workers.
OSHA will also soon begin to collect data from about 13,000 construction employers for the first time. This data will provide a clearer picture of injuries and illnesses in construction, and will be used to target inspections to those sites where there are higher-than-average injury and illness rates. It will also be used to focus outreach and compliance assistance on employers who would most benefit from it. The construction industry typically has high fatality rates among immigrants and other workers.
In commemoration of Worker Memorial Day, Henshaw also announced that, effective immediately, he will write personally to the families of workers killed on the job to express OSHA's sorrow over their loss.
"In expressing my deepest sympathies to the families of workers killed on the job, I want to assure them -- and the nation -- that we are working closely with employers throughout the country to do everything possible to prevent any more workers from dying on the job," said Henshaw.
"Elevating the fatality investigation and notification process to the highest office in OSHA ensures that these tragedies will receive the level of attention they deserve," said Ron Hayes, Diretor of the Fight Project and a member of OSHA's National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health. "I praise the administration and the head of OSHA for taking this most courageous and compassionate stand for the American worker. However we must continue to reduce the accident and injury rate to the point where this type of initiative is not needed at all."
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