Hispanic (Latino) Worker Safety Tips

March 3, 2013 Dave Weber No Comments

 

 

An OSHA Fact sheet says “While overall workplace fatalities have dropped 20 percent in the last decade, workplace fatalities among Hispanic workers have risen almost 35 percent in the same period.”  Here’s a link to a number of research reports on Hispanic worker on the job injuries and illnesses.

Why do Hispanic workers have such a high rate of serious accidents, and what can be done about it?

I was the EHS Manager at a metals company that had five factories with large numbers of Hispanic workers.  Accidents rates among our Hispanic workers were actually lower than the rates incurred by our other employees.   I believe our commendable Hispanic accident record was due to:

  • Hispanic workers are known for having a strong work ethic and a very fast work pace.  They must be instructed up front that –
    1.  safety is a priority
    2. they are not to take shortcuts that would violate safety rules or safe working practices
    3. they are to work at a reasonable pace/speed, and that rushing/hurrying excessively is not permitted because it could lead to an accident
  •  All occupational safety and health: rules, policies, procedures, signs, warnings, training, and communications should be in both English and Spanish.
  • Employees who speak/read only Spanish need to be supervised by bilingual supervisors (Spanish/English).
  • Because of their strong work ethic, Hispanic employees sometimes will work straight through breaks and meals.  Make sure that they take their alloted breaks.  If they don’t fatigue, inattention, or cumulative trauma injuries could occur.
  • Hispanic employees are reluctant to report work related injuries because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves or make trouble.  Emphasize to Hispanic employees that they must report all work related injuries immediately, and by doing so, they will not get into trouble or be fired.
  • Respect them and their culture.  Hispanics are very religious.  We allowed them to build a religious shrine right on the work floor.  This simple gesture helped with moral and labor/management relations.
  • Encourage and support their learning English.  Consider holding English as a second language classes right at your workplace.

 

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