workerMore Latinos in the occupational safety profession will mean fewer workplace injuries and fatalities among Latino workers.

That's the thinking of the American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE) Safety Professionals and the Latino workforce (SPALW) group, which recently established a professional education grant aimed at providing assistance for members in the safety, health and environment (SH&E) ccupation to further their education and career in an effort to help decrease the amount of workplace accidents among Latinos.

While workplace fatalities in general are decreasing, workplace incidents within the Latino workforce remain at high levels. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 682 Hispanic or Latino workers were fatally injured while at work in 2010. Fatal injuries among this population accounted for 15 percent of the total fatal work injuries with a fatal work injury rate of 3.7 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. The fatal work injury rate for all workers is 3.5 per 100,000 FTE workers.

The Safety Professionals and the Latino Workforce Professional Education grant was established to bring more attention to this issue.

“All of us as Latino safety professionals felt that not enough people were getting into safety classes,” explained SPALW Chair Anibal
Franco. “We don’t have enough representation in occupational safety.”

The establishment of the SPALW grant was also partially in response to a recent study commissioned by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) which concluded that within five years, the demand for occupational safety and health professionals will significantly
outnumber the amount of individuals with the proper training to fill the positions.

Starting in the spring of 2013, the SPALW Professional Education grant will be awarded each year to several individuals to enable them to attend various occupational safety classes and certification programs, seminars, conferences or any other event that will further develop their career
as a safety professional. The grant is presented in partnership with the ASSE Foundation.

ASSE and SPALW member, Rixio Medina, CSP of Rixio Medina and Associate, LP who also serves on the foundation’s fundraising committee has donated $3,500 to start the SPALW professional education grant. Other SPALW members and those who are committed to ensuring improved workplace safety for Latinos are encouraged to contribute to the fund as well.

Donations can be made via the ASSE website at or by mail to; Mary Goranson, Foundation Manager, American Society of Safety Engineers, 1800 E. Oakton St., Des Plaines, IL 60018, please earmark donations SPALW.

Open to all ASSE members, SPALW was established to provide a supportive environment for safety directors, managers, supervisors, consultants, and others who have a common interest in the Latino workforce to discuss, research, develop and implement new suggestions, ideas, recommendations and strategies related to this issue. Information about SPALW is available at: