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Region II Partners With Community-Based Organization to Train Spanish-Speaking Workers

As called for in its Strategic Management Plan (SMP), OSHA is continuing to identify ways to improve the safety and health of immigrants and other hard-to-reach workers and employers. In that spirit, OSHA's Region II has partnered with New Labor, a New Brunswick, New Jersey community group, which has also teamed with Rutgers University and the Latino Occupational Safety and Health Initiative (LOSHI), to train Spanish-speaking workers about safety in the workplace.

New Labor and LOSHI have focused on training Spanish-speaking workers about safety and health in the workplace in specific types of employment, including contract supplied employees, day laborers, temporary workers and full-time workers in restaurants, warehouses and other light industrial facilities. New Labor developed Spanish-language workplace safety manuals that taught the workers basic safety skills such as how to assess hazards and how to wear protective equipment. Workers also learned they had recourse in case of an accident.

OSHA Region II representatives Diana Cortez, Area Director of the Tarrytown, New York Office and Regional Hispanic Chair, along with OSHA Regional Labor Liaison Laura Kenny, have been working with New Labor and LOSHI since the summer of 2003. In June 2003, Ms. Cortez presented an "All About OSHA" Spanish-language safety and health training session for approximately 25 workers covering OSHA's inspection and complaint process, employee rights and 11(c) discrimination protections. The workers were extremely appreciative of the presentation and indicated in the class survey that they had not heard of OSHA prior to the class.

In December 2003, OSHA met again with LOSHI representatives, Richard Cunningham, Director of New Labor, and Debra Lancaster, Director of the Occupational Training and Education Consortium (OTEC) at Rutgers University, to observe their pilot program for Emergency Preparedness. OSHA provided feedback and also discussed ways to work together with LOSHI on this project. Specifically, OSHA suggested expanding their program on Emergency Preparedness and offered to provide training on but not limited to "All About OSHA," employee rights, and hazard recognition and prevention. This project is in the early stages.

In addition, LOSHI was recently awarded an OSHA Susan Harwood Training Grant in the amount of $212,000 to develop a sustainable health and safety Emergency Response and Preparedness (ERP) program. The ERP program will improve communication links between workers and employers and ensure that Spanish-speaking workers are able to overcome the language barriers that put them at greater risk of injuries and fatalities. The ERP program is designed to focus on employers who frequently hire entry-level Latino workers or utilize their services through temporary employment agencies. The ERP program will also be available to community-based organizations throughout New Jersey.

To continue this successful collaboration, the OSHA New Jersey Area Offices, along with regional staff, are pursuing a potential Alliance with New Labor and LOSHI to provide additional outreach and training to Spanish-speaking workers.

For more information on this training activity, please contact Diana Cortez at Diana Cortez.

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