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OSHA Region II held summits in New Jersey in July 2010 and New York City in November 2010 to educate Latino workers about workplace hazards and their right to a safe and healthy workplace. These summits built on the success of the OSHA National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health & Safety held in Houston Texas in April 2010. In OSHA Region II, which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, 38% of workplace fatalities from 2007-2009 were Latino workers.

Northern New Jersey Action Summit for Latino Immigrant Workers

The First Northern New Jersey Action Summit for Latino Immigrant Workers was an all-day event held on July 26, 2010, at the Morris County Library in Whippany, New Jersey. More than 120 people attended, including Latino workers, union representatives, employers, community organizations, consulates, and federal and state agencies.

"Our goal for this first New Jersey summit was to educate Latino workers about workplace hazards and their right to a safe and healthy workplace," said Robert Kulick, the Regional Administrator for OSHA Region II. "We want to encourage workers to voice their workplace concerns to OSHA, employers, community and faith-based organizations or union representatives. We want Latino and immigrant workers to know that OSHA is listening and is here to help."

A breakout session called "OSHA Listens" was designed to generate ideas on specific actions that OSHA can take to enhance the voice of workers in the workplace. Also during the summit, OSHA, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Immigration Rights Program, and the New Jersey Department of Labor renewed their Alliance. Under this Alliance, the participants will continue to provide AFSC members, in particular non-English or limited-English-speaking workers, with information and training resources that will help reduce the number of workers killed and injured in work-related accidents caused by common general and construction industry hazards.

OSHA representatives distribute worker safety and health materials to attendees at the First Northern New Jersey Action Summit for Latino/Immigrant Worker Safety and Health.
OSHA representatives distribute worker safety and health materials to attendees at the First Northern New Jersey Action Summit for Latino/Immigrant Worker Safety and Health.

New York City Action Summit for Latino/Immigrant Worker Safety and Health

OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NOISH) co-sponsored the New York City Action Summit for Latino/Immigrant Worker Safety and Health on November 16, 2010, at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York. The summit brought together workers, labor groups, community organizations, consulates, educators, government officials, safety and health professionals, and employers to share the most effective strategies for reaching Latino workers and informing them of their right to a safe and healthful workplace. Approximately 400 people attended the event. The New York City chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers sponsored three buses that transported more than 100 workers, mostly day laborers, to the summit from community organizations in Westchester, Queens, and Staten Island.

The New York City summit featured a 15-minute skit performed by OSHA staff and workers on "How to File an OSHA Complaint." The skit was used as a springboard for a question and answer session on identifying safety and health hazards and exercising workplace rights.

In addition, workers, OSHA representatives, and others participated in several panel sessions. The "Voices from the Workplace" panel included worker representatives from Make the Road New York and El Centro del Inmigrante. The "OSHA's Collaborate Efforts" panel included the Consul General of Guatemala in New York, the Acting Consul General of Mexico in New York, and representatives from the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, NIOSH, and the New York Department of Labor. The "Making a Difference" panel included representatives from the Laborers International Union of North America Locals 10 and 79, the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, and New York City Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.

Diana Cortez (Area Director for OSHA's Tarrytown, New York Area Office and the Region II Hispanic/ESL Coordinator) and workers at the 'Voices from the Workplace' panel at the New York City Action Summit for Latino/Immigrant Worker Safety and Health.
Diana Cortez (Area Director for OSHA's Tarrytown, New York Area Office and the Region II Hispanic/ESL Coordinator) and workers at the "Voices from the Workplace" panel at the New York City Action Summit for Latino/Immigrant Worker Safety and Health.

These summits are part of OSHA Region II's ongoing efforts to reach out to Latino and other diverse workers.  For example, Region II will hold a South Jersey Latino Summit in April 2011 and a New York City Metropolitan Area Pan Asian Summit in May 2011.  Region II will use the information gathered at these summits to enhance its efforts to inform these workers about workplace hazards and their right to a safe and healthy workplace.

For more information, please contact Diana Cortez.

As of February 2011.