April 14, 2010
Contact: Elizabeth Todd
US Labor Department's OSHA, Mexican consulate form alliance in Houston
Agreement, signed at National Latino action summit, aims to promote safety and health for Mexican and other Spanish-speaking workers in construction industry
HOUSTON -- Enhanced workplace safety for construction workers in the states of Texas and Louisiana is the goal of an alliance signed today at the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Consulate General of Mexico in Houston to promote safety and health rights in the workplace for Mexican and other Spanish-speaking workers.
"Our main goal in working with the Mexican consulate is to save lives, and we can do that by educating workers on hazardous working conditions in the workplace and empowering them to come forward and file complaints," said Mark Briggs, OSHA's Houston South area director. "A worker injury has rippling effects for him or her, that person's family and ultimately their community. We are hopeful this cooperative effort will help prevent needless injuries and fatalities." Under this agreement, the partners will work together to develop educational and outreach training programs relating to the "focus four hazards" in the construction industry (falls, electrical, struck-by and caught-between), employee rights and responsibilities in the workplace, and the complaint process.
"Labor rights of Mexican workers and their ability to exercise them fully and effectively will be enhanced by the mechanisms set in place by this alliance," said Carlos González Magallón, consul general of Mexico in Houston. "We share a strong commitment to protect the lives and safety of all Mexican workers, especially those who are most vulnerable and are often subject to abuse as a result of their immigration status."
A telephone hotline, 713-980-9999, will provide Spanish-speaking workers in the Greater Houston area with education, guidance and assistance about their rights in the workplace, as well as process any OSHA complaints or referrals to other federal agencies.
OSHA and the Mexican consulate in Houston have been working collaboratively to promote safety and health in the workplace for the Latino community. Outreach and educational methods include utilizing a mobile consulate to reach rural areas, monthly scheduled safety talks at the Mexican consulate, health fairs, training consulate personnel on the complaint process for referrals and using media resources to disseminate safety and health information.
Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to safety and health, including businesses, trade and professional organizations, unions and educational institutions, to leverage resources and expertise to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, and share information with employers and employees to help prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the workplace. OSHA and the organization sign a formal agreement with goals that address training and education, outreach and communication, and promoting the national dialogue on workplace safety and health.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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