Rhode Island's Consultation Program Consultation Program Promotes Health and Safety Business Equity and Inclusion in Underserved ZIP Codes

Rhode Island Department of Health & Work Safer Rhode Island logos

Eliminating health disparities and promoting health equity is one of the Rhode Island Department of Health’s leading priorities. Health equity can also be applied to occupational health – where work-related disease incidence, mental illness, injury, and fatalities are closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantages. In June 2023, the Work Safer Rhode Island (RI) Consultation Program partnered with the Rhode Island Health Equity Zone (HEZ) initiative to better integrate health equity into the Work Safer RI policies and practices and to address occupational health inequities.

The HEZ initiative is a health equity-based approach to prevention work that utilizes community-led solutions to address the social determinants of health. Fifteen HEZ communities have been formed across Rhode Island.

Recognizing the importance of culturally and linguistically appropriate communications in reaching businesses in HEZ Communities, Work Safe RI designated one of its industrial hygienists as its Business Equity Champion in July 2023. The industrial hygienist is fluent in Spanish, Créole, and Cape Verdean - all prominent languages amongst the HEZ community. Her multi-lingual abilities and her proficiency in communicating will help to address obstacles in reaching Rhode Island’s diverse small business population.

In early August 2023, Work Safer RI staff enrolled in the HEZ Learning Community event held at Rhode Island College. The event provided an opportunity to learn about the HEZ initiative, hear directly from the community, network, participate in workshops, and observe exhibits provided by vendors with similar goals. Hispanic communities are one of several underserved demographics targeted by HEZ. Work Safer RI also co-sponsored an exhibit table hosted by the Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (RIHCC) breakfast on December 1, 2023. This breakfast and expo were attended by over 80 vendors and 800 individual members and businesses, providing an important opportunity for direct outreach to this business community.

The OSHA On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high hazard worksites. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards and how to fix them, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, train and educate workers, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs. On-Site Consultation services are separate from OSHA enforcement efforts. To locate the OSHA On-Site Consultation program nearest you, call 800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit https://www.osha.gov/consultation.