An initiative to address the significantly higher fatality rates suffered by Hispanic and Latino workers in the U.S. moved forward at a Hispanic/Latino Worker Safety Workshop held earlier this month in Chicago. The event was launched by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and included representatives from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), OSHA, the National Safety Council, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Latino Worker Safety Center, Oregon OSHA, Associated Builders and Contractors, and other organizations from the agriculture, construction and manufacturing industries.

Top priorities

Workshop participants identified four priorities in addressing challenges and pushing the initiative forward:

1)  Create a clearinghouse for data and a centralized location for collaboration, including tools and resources for working with Hispanic and Latino workers.

2)  Develop campaigns that target various audiences on the importance of occupational safety and health.

3)  Promote workplace safety and health in schools so students graduate more prepared to reduce jobsite risks.

4)  Collaborate to bring more Hispanics and Latinos into the safety and health profession.

A collective effort

The workshop was the first step in a renewed collective effort involving government, advocacy groups, labor unions, academia, professional associations and the business sector. It builds on past collaborations such as the Overlapping Vulnerabilities report in 2015 by ASSE and NIOSH.

“If nothing changes for this vulnerable population, tragedies will continue to destroy families while the costs to workers, employers and society grow,” said ASSE President-Elect Rixio Medina, CSP, ASP, CPP. Medina said there are obstacles to instituting certain safety programs. “But there are strategies that can break down those barriers if we remain focused on this issue. It’s all about a collaborative approach to sharing insights and leveraging existing resources for the broader good.”