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OSHA Region III Reaches Out to Immigrant Workers Through Alliance with Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia

As part of its efforts to reach out to immigrant workers, Region III hosted a "Charla" on May 20, 2014 at the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia. In Spanish, charla means to chat in a casual manner. The Consulate highlighted this outreach through a Tweet on its Twitter page. The Region has had an Alliance with the Consulate since April 15, 2011 and renewed it on September 9, 2013. As a part of the Alliance, the Regional Office hosts these chats monthly.

On that Tuesday, Isabel DeOliveira, a Compliance Assistance Specialist (CAS) for the Region, walked among the rows of people waiting to be assisted by a member of the Consulate staff and gave out information about OSHA and on worker rights. These monthly outreach efforts are one of the many ways that CASs and other OSHA staff foster an open and inviting atmosphere where they can provide information and the attendees can in turn ask questions. Additionally, OSHA staff also provides OSHA literature, take employee complaints, and leave contact information at the Consulate.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), workers are entitled to working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm. The OSH Act provides workers with various rights, including the right to ask OSHA to inspect their workplace, use their rights without fear of retaliation, and receive training in a language they can understand.

"Yet, most employees, especially immigrants are not aware of their workplace rights," Isabel explained. "It has been said that Latinos often face the most dangerous working conditions and the fewest protections. And I find this to be the case with most immigrant workers. OSHA never asks about worker (immigration) status, nor do we share any complainant information with anyone. All information is confidential."

In addition to these monthly outreach efforts, OSHA also provides outreach at mobile consulates. These mobile events are held on Saturday in rural parts of the country to provide outreach to workers who may not have the ability or time to visit the main consulate office.

OSHA's Consulate Alliances support the Department of Labor's and OSHA's mission to ensure safe and healthful working conditions to vulnerable workforces. The Consulate provides a safe and trusting space where workers can obtain OSHA Spanish language publications and further information about worker rights, protection from specific hazards and employer obligations to workers who might not otherwise have received this information.

The participants intend to establish a collaborative relationship to provide Mexican nationals and others in Pennsylvania and Delaware information, guidance, and access to education and training resources to promote workers' rights in protecting their occupational safety and health, and to help them understand U.S. domestic law on the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act).

For more information, contact Isabel DeOliveira.

As of December 2014.

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