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Region V's Chicago North Area Office Reaches Out to Thousands of Hispanics at the Binational Health Week

Waiting in line for blood pressure screening during the 
4th Annual Binational Health Week.

Waiting in line for blood pressure screening during
the 4th Annual Binational Health Week.

To protect the safety and health of Hispanic employees and others, the OSHA Region V Chicago North, Illinois Area Office participated in the Illinois 4th Annual Binational Health Week, which was held from October 4-15, 2008. Sponsored by the General Consulate of México, Binational Health Week was expanded in 2008 from 7 to 11 days. More than 3,000 people attended the Fairs, which was a greater number than for previous years. "Hispanic Health fairs such as the ones we held in October 2008 help OSHA get the word out to the Latino working population in the Chicago Area and help 'put a human face' on the Agency," says Gary J. Anderson, Area Office Director of the OSHA Region V, Calumet City Area Office and Chairman of the Region V Hispanic Outreach Committee. The Calumet City Area Office participated in the planning of the Fairs.

The Week consisted of Fairs that were held in the Chicago area to promote health education in the Latino community by offering free medical examinations, information on disease prevention and access to medical services. Fairs were held every day during the 11 days. Each Fair offered a variety of health screenings (e.g., for diabetes, blood pressure, asthma and cholesterol), examinations (e.g., dental check-ups) and educational seminars (e.g., about diet, exercise, healthy food choices). The Fairs held on the weekend were scheduled at larger locations; had a greater number of doctors, medical and dental screenings, and information booths; and offered free food, music and Brazilian and Ecuadorian folk dancing. Some locations offered masses; one fair offered dental examinations for children, and another offered vaccinations.

OSHA had exhibit booths at five of the Fairs. Spanish-speaking representatives from the Chicago North Area Offices (Leticia Colmenares, Industrial Hygienist, and Luis Garcia and Diana Cabrera, Safety and Health Assistants) participated in the Little Village Health Fair on October 4, 2008 where they staffed the OSHA booth, answered questions, and distributed copies of the Agency's Spanish/English safety and health outreach materials on trenching/excavation, fall protection, personal protective equipment, hazard communication, landscaping, restaurant and employee rights. Representatives from the OSHA Region V, Aurora, Illinois Area Office helped to staff one of the exhibit booths.

In addition to their involvement in the Fairs, representatives from the Calumet City and Chicago North Area Offices delivered the "All About OSHA" training to 200 employees of the Mexican Consulate on September 2-4, 2008 and to 25 employees of the Guatemalan Consulate on October 9, 2008.

The Consulate offices from Central and South America that participated in the Fairs included México, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Uruguay. In addition to the OSHA Region V Chicago North Area Office, which has supported the event for each of its 4 years, the U. S. Department of Labor was represented at the Fairs by the Wage and Hour Division. The state of Illinois was represented by its Departments of Public Health, Children's and Family Services, and Labor. Other organizations that participated included Life Source, Chicagoland's Blood Center; S.O.S. (Signs of Suicide), the Suicide Prevention Program; and Alcoholics Anonymous.

For more information about this event, contact Leticia Colmenares.

As of March 2009.

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