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Associated Builders and Contractors, Mid-Gulf Chapter Uses Susan Harwood Training Grant to Provide Safety Training to Hispanic Workers

The Associated Builders and Contractors, Mid-Gulf Chapter has been using a Susan Harwood Training Grant to provide on-site construction safety and English language training to Hispanic workers in the Mobile, Alabama area. OSHA recognizes the importance of ensuring that Hispanic workers understand safety messages. Statistics have shown that Hispanic workers are more likely to be injured or killed on work sites than non-Hispanic workers because they don't understand their supervisors' safety guidance. In addition, studies have shown that a lack of English skills impairs workers' ability to report unsafe working conditions. Reaching Hispanic workers with safety information at their work sites is an issue OSHA addresses through its outreach and cooperative programs and Susan Harwood Training Grants.

Jane Minette, Director of Safety at Associated Builders and Contractors Mid-Gulf Chapter, located in Mobile, is fluent in Spanish. She and her team take construction safety and English language training directly to work sites instead of transporting the workers to the classroom. For example, during the construction of Battle House Tower for the Alabama Retirement System, the team trained Hispanic workers in trailers, barns and buildings on construction sites that they had transformed into learning centers. Ms. Minette has said that she and her team are never daunted by 'creative' teaching facilities. "We have trained in break rooms, storage rooms, and rooms where we had to hang sheets over the windows to block strong sunlight," she said. "Our primary concern is teaching Hispanic workers about job safety. The facility doesn't become an issue as long it doesn't hinder our teaching effort." To help workers learn construction phrases and words in English, Ms. Minette has incorporated new teaching aids into her program such as crossword puzzles with safety questions and versions of television game shows such as Wheel of Fortune and Concentration.

Ken Atha, Office Director at OSHA's Region IV, Mobile Area Office said "We are making unprecedented efforts to increase workplace safety for Hispanic employees through these events. The training methods applied by Ms. Minette, complement the Region's Hispanic outreach activities such as safety and health fairs and allow OSHA to reach more Hispanic employees with greater training and information sharing success."

For additional information, please contact Bill Bice, the Compliance Assistance Specialist in the Mobile Area Office.

As of December 2005.

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