3
What Information Exists and What Are the Gaps?

While it is clear from workshop discussions that occupational safety and health resources for Spanish-speaking workers in the United States are needed, it is less clear that there are adequate materials that fit the needs. Many different sources of Spanish-language materials were identified, primarily from the following domestic sources:

  1. governmental agencies (such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], Mine Safety and Health Administration, NIOSH, Environmental Protection Agency, and state programs);

  2. state governmental programs (especially in those states with a long history of participation of Hispanic immigrants in the labor force);

  3. labor unions who represent large numbers of Spanish-speaking workers;

  4. university and non-profit programs that serve immigrant workers;

  5. employer associations and insurance companies; and

  6. commercial material development firms that market their materials to employers of Spanish-speaking workers.

In addition, there are international sources of materials from the International Labor Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and from many safety, health, and research institutions in Spanish-speaking countries.

A variety of problems were identified during the workshop regarding these existing materials.

  1. There is no centralized place to easily access existing resources. While there are some attempts to maintain collections of materials, these collections are not online, not reviewed, and not updated regularly. Even publicly funded materials in Spanish often are difficult to access (such as those developed under OSHA training grants).

  2. Only a small fraction of U.S. government materials has been produced in (or translated into) Spanish. It is unclear which criteria are applied to determine which materials to translate or whether there is an overall strategy to identify and address the need for materials in Spanish (and other languages).

  3. There is great variability in the quality of materials from all sources. For example, materials developed in other countries are often not relevant to a U.S. audience. Materials translated from English often suffer from poor translation, translation that is incorrect, or translation that is correct but overly technical and not easily understood by the intended audience.

  4. Frequently, those who are involved in training and education of workers find that the only materials available are highly technical documents, rather than practical teaching materials.

  5. There is much more material available for workers in agriculture and construction, while there is comparatively little for those who work in the service sector, food



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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary 3 What Information Exists and What Are the Gaps? While it is clear from workshop discussions that occupational safety and health resources for Spanish-speaking workers in the United States are needed, it is less clear that there are adequate materials that fit the needs. Many different sources of Spanish-language materials were identified, primarily from the following domestic sources: governmental agencies (such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], Mine Safety and Health Administration, NIOSH, Environmental Protection Agency, and state programs); state governmental programs (especially in those states with a long history of participation of Hispanic immigrants in the labor force); labor unions who represent large numbers of Spanish-speaking workers; university and non-profit programs that serve immigrant workers; employer associations and insurance companies; and commercial material development firms that market their materials to employers of Spanish-speaking workers. In addition, there are international sources of materials from the International Labor Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and from many safety, health, and research institutions in Spanish-speaking countries. A variety of problems were identified during the workshop regarding these existing materials. There is no centralized place to easily access existing resources. While there are some attempts to maintain collections of materials, these collections are not online, not reviewed, and not updated regularly. Even publicly funded materials in Spanish often are difficult to access (such as those developed under OSHA training grants). Only a small fraction of U.S. government materials has been produced in (or translated into) Spanish. It is unclear which criteria are applied to determine which materials to translate or whether there is an overall strategy to identify and address the need for materials in Spanish (and other languages). There is great variability in the quality of materials from all sources. For example, materials developed in other countries are often not relevant to a U.S. audience. Materials translated from English often suffer from poor translation, translation that is incorrect, or translation that is correct but overly technical and not easily understood by the intended audience. Frequently, those who are involved in training and education of workers find that the only materials available are highly technical documents, rather than practical teaching materials. There is much more material available for workers in agriculture and construction, while there is comparatively little for those who work in the service sector, food

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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary processing, and small manufacturing, which have large numbers of monolingual Spanish speakers (see Appendix E). There is a particularly small amount of materials that addresses workers’ health and safety legal rights, especially in a manner relevant to immigrant workers. For example, a recent Supreme Court decision has given the incorrect perception that OSHA laws do not apply to many immigrant workers (see Appendix E). There are few materials that address the intersection of immigration rights and health and safety rights. At the workshop there was general agreement on the need to collect, evaluate and disseminate Spanish-language resources on an ongoing basis. This clearinghouse-type effort poses significant challenges, such as determining which criteria should be used to assess the quality of materials to be included. In order to do this it would be useful for NIOSH to call a consensus conference or workshop to focus specifically on this task. In addition, the workshop participants also agreed that identifying funding for active collection and maintenance of materials may prove difficult. However, given the paucity of effective educational materials for a large and growing U.S. population at risk, NIOSH, OSHA, and other agencies responsible for worker safety must rise to the challenge. An additional point of agreement at the workshop was that it is not enough simply to collect, evaluate, and disseminate existing materials. Development of new materials would also be of great value. The need for these materials cannot be adequately met by a centralized governmental approach. This gap may best be filled by those who are in direct contact with the affected populations and aware of their health and safety training and information needs. Discussion during the workshop often centered on the important topic of providing resources for those who are best able to access high-risk Spanish-speaking workers and to support their efforts through: funding for tailored outreach and education efforts, and for development of appropriate materials needed for such efforts; networking among those who are reaching Spanish-speaking workers to exchange approaches and learn from one another’s experiences; technical support for those community organizations that may have the best access to a particular worker population and may be the most trusted source of information and training for those workers, but may not have the necessary safety and health expertise to carry out the work without training and assistance.