What do Arkansas and Texas have in common? Both states have produced U.S. presidents. Both have a long history of excellent college football teams. Both states have also benefited from informal partnerships between OSHA and local companies to provide Spanish language training for employers and employees in the construction industry.
It all began in 1997 in Fort Worth, Texas. Marilyn Clark Alston, then a Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) with OSHA's Forth Worth Area Office, and Jesse Cole, Safety Director for Austin Commercial, LP, a construction contractor, were teaching an OSHA 10-hour construction course together in English. Both recognized the need for a similar course in Spanish. Mr. Cole offered to allow Joe Rodriguez, Safety Manager/Trainer for Austin Commercial to teach the 10-hour construction course in Spanish. This led to the very first OSHA 10-hour construction course in Spanish!
The 10-hour course is designed to provide training on construction safety and health to entry level workers. The classes emphasize hazard identification, avoidance, control, and prevention. Required topics include an introduction to OSHA, electrical standards, and fall protection. Other topics may include trenching and excavation, scaffolding, tools, and personal protective equipment. Handouts and training materials are provided to the trainees during the class. Upon the completion of the class, the trainees receive a course completion card.
Since that day in 1997, the OSHA 10-hour construction course has been held in both English and Spanish in the Ft. Worth and Dallas areas. As of November 2003, almost 1,300 individuals have been trained since the first classes were taught.
OSHA's cooperative efforts with Austin Commercial didn't stop in Texas. The company agreed to allow Joe Rodriguez to travel to Little Rock, Arkansas to help Ms. Alston, now OSHA's Compliance Assistance Specialist in Little Rock, with the training there. A 10-hour construction course in Spanish was held in November 2003 in Springdale, Arkansas, an event which may be offered annually in Arkansas.
In addition to working with OSHA on the 10-hour construction courses, Austin Commercial has established formal cooperative relationships with OSHA. The company is a member of the OSHA Strategic Partnership with Associated General Contractors (AGC), and also received STAR status under OSHA's Voluntary Partnership Program (VPP) for the company's Southwestern Medical Center construction project in Dallas, Texas.
OSHA also has worked informally with TETRA Technologies, an oil and gas services company headquartered in Woodland, Texas, to train Spanish-speaking construction workers. At the 2001 World Safety Organization conference in Waco, Texas, Ms. Alston met Roosevelt Smith, Corporate Safety Director and Tommy Stafford, Safety Manager for TETRA. After learning of the success of the 10-hour course in Texas, Mr. Smith agreed to allow Mr. Stafford to assist with teaching the course in Little Rock. Mr. Smith is President of the National Safety Management Society (NSMS), which signed an Alliance with OSHA in October 2003 to protect worker health and safety with a focus on integrated safety management systems and workplace safety and health programs.
These informal partnerships are examples of how worker safety can benefit when OSHA works with companies like Austin Commercial and TETRA, who are truly committed to safety and health in the workplace.
For additional information, please contact Marilyn Clark Alston, Compliance Assistance Specialist in OSHA's Area Office in Little Rock, Arkansas, at Marilyn Clark.
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