NATIONAL ACTION SUMMIT
FOR LATINO WORKER HEALTH AND SAFETY
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Assistant Secretary of Labor
For Occupational Safety and Health
What an amazing two days we've had together here in Houston.
Are we glad we came?
Did we learn a lot and meet some good people?
Are we ready to make some changes?
This summit, as I told you yesterday, is just a beginning. Now it's time to go out and change the world.
As Secretary Solis said when she talked to us yesterday, the goal of this conference -- of this Department of Labor -- is to ensure that all workers in this country, including those for whom English may not be a first language, have a good job, a safe job and understand the hazards they face, what their rights are and how to use them.
We hope you've all had a good time here, but just having a good time for two days in Houston is no indication that this conference has been a success. How will we know if this conference has been successful -- if it has achieved its goals?
If all of you who are here from community organizations and day labor groups now understand the rights that workers have under OSHA -- then, we've been successful.
And if workers get more involved in making sure their workplaces are safe -- then, we've been successful.
If workers and community groups now understand better how to identify hazards in your workplaces and what to do about them -- then, we've been successful.
If employers and company health and safety directors understand better how to reach and educate Latino workers -- we've been successful.
But the real sign of success will be ...
-- when we start hearing stories about how more workers are demanding safe workplaces and are not afraid to seek help from OSHA when they're having problems
-- when our OSHA inspectors start calling Washington to complain that they're overwhelmed with requests for information and inspections and local conferences and meetings with Latino workers and community groups and health clinics
-- when community groups complain that they're overwhelmed with requests for training and information and help, and when they start pleading with us for more training grants.
Most of all, we'll know we've been successful ...
-- when we start seeing sharp drops in the number of Latino workers injured and killed on the job
-- when we stop seeing Latino names in those small, back-page newspaper articles about workers who fell from a scaffold or were crushed in a trench
-- when more fathers and mothers are able to come home to their families at night.
Now we need to return to our communities and put everything we've learned these days into action. We need to take the business cards and phone numbers out of our pockets and start making those calls.
We need to move forward to form new partnerships and take decisive steps to change the landscape of workplaces.
We need to take the tools and information we've collected at this conference out of our briefcases and suitcases and use them to create more effective ways to promote workplace safety and health, and protect workers.
We need to end the shameful, deadly toll suffered by Latino workers in this country.
We need to move from this summit to the construction sites, the chicken processing plants, the hotels and hospitals and to every worksite where workers need help.
On behalf of the Secretary Solis, the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, we pledge to you our firm commitment to help workers come home alive and healthy at the end of the day.
The American people expect no less from us and we expect no less from ourselves.
The OSHA staff here in this room with us today came to work at OSHA because they are dedicated to OSHA's mission: to ensure that every worker has a right to a safe workplace; to ensure that every worker and every employer has the information and tools they need; and they are committed to strong and fair enforcement of the laws that help ensure that no employer succeeds in cutting corners on worker safety.
That's their job and they do it well -- but they can't do it alone.
We need your help, we need your support, but most of all we need your involvement.
Americans do not need to wake up to any more trench cave-ins, scaffold collapses, amputations or electrocutions. We need no more refinery fires or mine explosions.
We need our friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members to come home from work, unharmed and healthy -- every day!
Many people have traveled long and far to participate in the workshops and other events. Some of you raised your own funds to be here because you care so much about good jobs and safe jobs.
Thank you for coming. Thank you for participating.
Muchas gracias. Buena suerte!