Bi-Lingual Safety Trainers are in Demand
Hispanic constructions workers are increasing but in many cases without proper safety enforcement and training. There is a need for more Spanish speaking OSHA instructors and inspectors to fill the void.
As the number of Spanish speaking immigrants rise, they become a larger percentage of construction labor and are eligible for the same protection under OSHA as any other worker. Qualified Spanish speaking OSHA instructors have dramatically increased over the last decade but are still in short supply.
Safety in construction can not improve without an increase in this cadre of bi-lingual OSHA approved instructors.
Why The Need?
In my home state of North Carolina, Hispanics constitute 70-80% of home construction in many areas. I have personally seen the lack of enforcement of safety standards and the unsafe conditions Hispanic workers have to endure. Many accidents and illnesses go unreported because the undocumented workers are afraid he/she may be arrested or deported. I have seen Hispanic workers running drilling machines without dust masks or hearing protection. Even worse they ride in the bucket of a front end loader for transportation to another work site. Working at heights means climbing without any safety harness. In short, Hispanic workers need more safety protection and safety training.
What Can We Do?
I have contacted my NC OSHA several times asking for inspections of unsafe sites. However, under their guidelines, State OSHA agencies can not respond or initiate an inspection unless there is a serious accident or the company is large and has reported a high number of accidents. We should lobby our State legislators for more funding for State OSHA and ask them to support increased hiring of bi-lingual inspectors and trainers. Further, the guidelines should be changed to allow inspections at smaller construction sites which represent high risk.
Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority in the USA. In the construction industry, Hispanics are increasing at an even faster rate. We must address the need for more OSHA approved Spanish speaking trainers as well as bi-lingual OSHA inspectors.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.