Marianne P.Brown, Director
It is becoming increasing clear that Spanish-speaking workers in the United States work in some of the most dangerous industries, and they currently have the highest occupational fatality rate of any ethnic group. While workplace deaths for white and black workers declined in 2000, deaths for Hispanic/Latino workers increased sharply from 729 in 1999 to 815 in 2000, with a 24 percent jump in construction fatalities (Hedges, 2001). The extent of the problem is not necessarily captured in this Bureau of Labor Statistics data for a variety of reasons. A Newsday investigative series in July 2001 reported that “OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Adminstration) officials say immigrant deaths in construction and manufacturing are far more likely than retail or agriculture to come to their attention because they are often unionized jobs where safety violations are more frequently reported” (Maier, 2001). In Newsday’s study of New York state’s workplace deaths in a six-year period, deaths were found to occur “in retail places such as late-night restaurants, gas stations, and other small, cash-only businesses, yet only a small percentage of all OSHA fatality investigations occurred in this area” (Maier, 2001). In addition to possible under-reporting of workplace fatalities, it is likely there is also under-reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses by Spanish-speaking workers and their employers, as these can be “hidden” more easily than a fatality.
The reasons for such non-reporting are many, but a major factor is that many of these workers are undocumented, without legal work papers. It has been estimated that in some industries, particularly in California, undocumented workers account for 50 percent or more of the workforce (Cleeland, 2000). The current head of federal OSHA, John L.Henshaw, has acknowledged that “we recognize that employers who hire undocumented workers may be afraid to report workplace deaths, due to possible legal repercussions from their hiring practices” (Henshaw, 2002). Undocumented workers particularly are often afraid to report injuries or illnesses for fear they will be fired or turned in to the Immigration and Naturalization Service by the employers.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “The number of Hispanic workers in the U.S. work force is expected to increase by more than one-third over the next decade” (NIOSH, 2001). This fact, combined with the disproportionate number of Hispanic/Latino workplace fatalities in 2000, 13.8 percent, vis-à-vis their proportion of employment, 10.7 percent, points to the need for new interventions to stop this rising tide.
(It should also be noted that it is not only in California, New York, New Jersey, and Florida where a significant number of Spanish-speaking people are now working. There are significant numbers in North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Nebraska, Maine, and other states as industries in these states recruit low-wage immigrant workers to improve their profit margins.)
Part of the solution is to provide information and training to these workers in their first language in an accurate and culturally sensitive manner. Health and safety professionals point out that “Hispanic immigrants, partly because many do not speak English, often receive less job and safety training than American-born workers do. Language barriers often contribute to the higher
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary Appendix E An Examination of Occupational Safety and Health Materials Currently Available in Spanish for Workers as of 1999 Marianne P.Brown, Director UCLA-LOSH Program INTRODUCTION AND STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM It is becoming increasing clear that Spanish-speaking workers in the United States work in some of the most dangerous industries, and they currently have the highest occupational fatality rate of any ethnic group. While workplace deaths for white and black workers declined in 2000, deaths for Hispanic/Latino workers increased sharply from 729 in 1999 to 815 in 2000, with a 24 percent jump in construction fatalities (Hedges, 2001). The extent of the problem is not necessarily captured in this Bureau of Labor Statistics data for a variety of reasons. A Newsday investigative series in July 2001 reported that “OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Adminstration) officials say immigrant deaths in construction and manufacturing are far more likely than retail or agriculture to come to their attention because they are often unionized jobs where safety violations are more frequently reported” (Maier, 2001). In Newsday’s study of New York state’s workplace deaths in a six-year period, deaths were found to occur “in retail places such as late-night restaurants, gas stations, and other small, cash-only businesses, yet only a small percentage of all OSHA fatality investigations occurred in this area” (Maier, 2001). In addition to possible under-reporting of workplace fatalities, it is likely there is also under-reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses by Spanish-speaking workers and their employers, as these can be “hidden” more easily than a fatality. The reasons for such non-reporting are many, but a major factor is that many of these workers are undocumented, without legal work papers. It has been estimated that in some industries, particularly in California, undocumented workers account for 50 percent or more of the workforce (Cleeland, 2000). The current head of federal OSHA, John L.Henshaw, has acknowledged that “we recognize that employers who hire undocumented workers may be afraid to report workplace deaths, due to possible legal repercussions from their hiring practices” (Henshaw, 2002). Undocumented workers particularly are often afraid to report injuries or illnesses for fear they will be fired or turned in to the Immigration and Naturalization Service by the employers. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “The number of Hispanic workers in the U.S. work force is expected to increase by more than one-third over the next decade” (NIOSH, 2001). This fact, combined with the disproportionate number of Hispanic/Latino workplace fatalities in 2000, 13.8 percent, vis-à-vis their proportion of employment, 10.7 percent, points to the need for new interventions to stop this rising tide. (It should also be noted that it is not only in California, New York, New Jersey, and Florida where a significant number of Spanish-speaking people are now working. There are significant numbers in North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Nebraska, Maine, and other states as industries in these states recruit low-wage immigrant workers to improve their profit margins.) Part of the solution is to provide information and training to these workers in their first language in an accurate and culturally sensitive manner. Health and safety professionals point out that “Hispanic immigrants, partly because many do not speak English, often receive less job and safety training than American-born workers do. Language barriers often contribute to the higher
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary Hispanic injury rate…. Many job sites, safety instructions and warnings appear only in English” (Greenhouse, 2001). It is important to emphasize, however, that information and training cannot be the only preventive action taken. Putting all the burden on the worker to “work safely” reflects a limited understanding of how to make the workplace safe and also is unfair to the worker. Engineering controls is the most desirable and effective safety method (e.g., putting guards on cutting machines, having a lockout system in place when doing electrical maintenance). Needed personal protective equipment must also be an integral part of the safety program (e.g., providing harnesses and safety belts when doing elevated work). Providing eating and drinking areas that are not contaminated with lead or other workplace toxics is another necessity. Once these control measures are in place, information and training for the worker will cover why the guards are there and must stay in place, steps to follow when locking out a machine, why and how to wear safety harnesses, and why and how to practice good hygiene so that one’s food or drink is not contaminated with workplace toxics. METHODOLOGY To write this paper I conducted a review of over 500 educational health and safety materials developed by over 75 organizations for workers up to 1999. I have also examined approximately 50 such materials developed since 1999. All were primarily written materials (booklets, pamphlets, fact sheets) and posters that were produced by governmental agencies at the federal, state, and local levels; university programs; unions; worker advocacy groups; occupational health and safety professional associations; voluntary health agencies; for-profit companies that produce health and safety materials; and industry. In addition, at least a fourth of the materials reviewed were from Spain and Latin American countries. Between 1997 and 1999, the program that I direct, the UCLA-Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) program updated a bibliography of such materials that we originally produced in 1990, La Fuente Obrera: Materiales en Español de Salud y Seguridad Para Trabajadores y Profesionales de Salud; this Spanish/English bibliography is available on our website at <http://www.losh.ucla.edu> (Alas, 1999). Since that time, we also have acquired new material. We have at least one copy of each of the materials reviewed in our Spanish Resource Library. People can request from us photocopies of materials that do not have copyright restrictions. FINDINGS In this updated review as of Spring 2002 it has again become clear that although there have been numerous materials developed for Spanish-speaking workers, there are still many gaps. There are needs for both new materials and revisions of those that exist. Here is a snapshot of what we found. Federal OSHA, under the directorship of Dr. Eula Bingham from 1976 to 1980, produced a series of Spanish-language booklets, a manual/workbook, and a poster, which are now out of print. These were compact, in lively colors with graphics, and covered topics such as “Health and Safety Committees: A Good Way to Protect Workers”; “Safety and Health at Work: Answers to Some Common Questions”; “Safety and Health at Work: OSHA Inspections from Start to Finish”; a manual/workbook for workers on “Health Inspections from OSHA: How You are Able to Help”; and a poster entitled “They Cannot Punish You for Insisting on Safety and Health on the Job. It is the Law”. Currently OSHA has four booklets on “Risks of Chemicals,” “Regulations,” “Bloodborne Pathogens,” and “Worker Rights” that were developed in the period
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary from 1988 to 1992; they are text-heavy without many graphics. OSHA also has three information cards about heat stress, cold stress, and damaging rays from the sun, and one poster. None of OSHA’s videos for loan are in Spanish. NIOSH in 1982 partnered with the Institute Nacional de Seguridad e Higiene en el Trabajo in Barcelona, Spain, and translated NIOSH’s Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards into Spanish. Between 1984 and 1986 NIOSH created 10 NIOSH Alertas of about four pages each that describe cases in which workers, for example, died in confined spaces or were electrocuted doing certain kinds of work and then give recommendations for how these kinds of deaths can be avoided in the future. These Alertas are dense with text and have no illustrations. Currently one can download 26 Spanish publications from their website, but these are text-heavy and often lengthy. One brochure “Eres Un Joven Que Trabaja?” intended for teen workers was originally produced by UC Berkeley with NIOSH funds and then was put on the NIOSH website with all but one illustration removed, resulting in a much less attractive and user-friendly item. NIOSH has funded two attractive, colorful, highly graphic brochures on skin cancer that were produced by the Telamon Corporation and PATH: “Corre Peligro Trabajando Bajo el Sol?” and “Protegete del Sol.” Through NIOSH’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program, 2 of the 15 programs have four fact sheets in Spanish on their websites. One program has its Case Reports and one Hazard Alert in Spanish. The Mine Safety and Health Administration does not have anything on their website in Spanish, but they have produced eight videos in Spanish—these are dubbed—with more to be finished by the end of this summer. They also have a number of booklets and information cards in Spanish on topics such as silicosis, mercury, machine guards, personal protective equipment, etc. Some, not most of the materials use graphics to illustrate points. They do appear to have developed more materials for workers in Spanish than has OSHA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a “CDC en Español” section on their website. Within that is a section on salud occupacional that links to some NIOSH publications in Spanish. It is surprising that the CDC Information Networks page does not have a link to NIOSH. The Environmental Protection Agency has Spanish training material for workers available through their Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) which has a Spanish translated version of the OPP homepage. It is not stated on the homepage that they have these materials, however. The New Jersey Department of Health Services translated into Spanish all the fact sheets they had developed in English between 1986 and 1989. These are more user-friendly than most safety data sheets and can be used as references when doing worker training. These should be available in workplaces where there are Spanish-speaking workers in order to meet the intent of the workers’ right to know standards. California’s Department of Health Services’ Occupational Health Branch has developed a number of educational materials in Spanish, including fact sheets on formaldehyde, methyl bromide, methylene chloride, pregnancy and working with chemicals, pulmonary function tests, and mold. They also have a poster and Guide to Solvent Safety, a booklet on ergonomic issues for sewing machine operators and for jewelry workers (including a poster), and a trainee manual for workers (excluding construction workers) who work around lead, “Como Prevenir el Envenenamiento con Plomo en el Trabajo.” All these publications are California-specific, so they would need to be rewritten for use elsewhere. California-OSHA’s Consultation Office has developed some materials in Spanish, mostly for the agricultural sector: a guidebook for farm labor contractors, an informational book on Cal-OSHA’s special emphasis program in agriculture (ASHIP), and a poster targeted at farm labor contractors saying what they must provide for the workers. For employers Cal-OSHA’s Construction Safety and Health Inspection project has a poster that specifies which areas in the workplace will be targeted for inspections.
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary University labor education programs, such as the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health (UCLA-LOSH) program and UC Berkeley’s Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP), have tried to incorporate in their materials good principles of how adults learn best and how to develop materials for workers with limited literacy (Szudy, 1994). Some of their products include LOSH’s packet of 11 Spanish/English fact sheets that includes information on workers’ rights to bathroom breaks, how to identify hazards in the workplace, Employer Log 3001 requirements, ergonomics, and workers’ health and safety rights. LOHP has produced a bilingual photonovela entitled “Le Enferma Su Trabajo?” that has been used both in the United States and in Mexico. Since federal OSHA’s New Directions in Worker Training funding in the late 1970s, unions have produced a variety of brochures, fact sheets, manuals, and posters in Spanish. There is a lot of variability in quality and user-friendliness in Spanish translation of these union publications. Compared with the government publications, the union publications tend to have more graphics that are not as “serious” as the governmental ones (they are more likely to be in a cartoon style). The unions that have been most active in this area are: Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTU) (The ILGWU and the ACTU came together to form UNITE about five years ago.) International Union of United Automobile Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Canadian Auto Workers Union Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Service Employees International Union (SEIU) American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Glass, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers Union (GPPAWU). The topics most often covered are how to identify hazards, workers’ health and safety rights, health and safety committees, and specific hazards. There have been collaborations between governmental organizations and unions, such as with EPA’s booklet “Asbestos en Edificios: Guia para el Personal de Servicio y Mantenimiento,” which was adapted by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) with some changes. For one thing SEIU added a section on the limitations of respirators and also alerted the service and maintenance workers that if they worked in a school, there is another law (AHERA) to protect them from asbestos exposure. Worker advocacy groups also have developed Spanish-language materials on health and safety. Such groups include: the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights in Washington, D.C., which has created Hazard Alerts on construction topics, which are available in pocket-size cards or can be downloaded from their website; the Committees on Occupational Safety and Health (COSH groups)—there are about 25 of these largely volunteer groups around the United States and they have developed mostly fact sheets of one to two pages that are usually illustrated; and the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras in San Antonio, Texas, which has developed comic-book-style publications that answer, “Cuáles son mis Derechos en el Trabajo?” 1 The employer is required under OSHA law to post a summary log every February of injury and illnesses that have been reported for the past year in the work place.
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary Voluntary health agencies such as the American Lung Association have developed written and audiovisual materials on workplace health and safety. The branches in Chicago and Los Angeles developed some materials in the 1980s. Latino/Hispanic Advocacy Organizations do not appear to have much available on workplace health and safety for workers. The National Council of La Raza, for example, has nothing on this topic on their website. The National Alliance for Hispanic Health does have some fact sheets on asbestos, dusts and debris (related to the September 11th, 2001 cleanup in New York City) and anthrax. These only have text, no illustrations. Occupational safety and health professional organizations such as the American Industrial Hygiene Association have developed some materials. A 1995 booklet entitled “Un Enfoque Ergonómico para Evitar Lesiones en el Lugar de Trabajo” has no graphics or illustrations and is very dense with text. A 121-page book Protección Respiratoria: Un Manual y Guía (second edition printed in 1991) has been written for the persons responsible for initiating and operating respiratory protection programs in the workplace. It is very technical with some black-and-white photographs. Employer Organizations have created some training manuals for workers in Spanish, such as the Association of General Contractors. But no such materials are listed on their website. The National Safety Council’s Safety Center, Inc. has developed Spanish-language materials for agricultural workers which can be downloaded from AgSafe’s website. These are short fact sheets with no graphics. Commercial health and safety companies have also developed some materials that are of varying quality and usefulness. For example, Genium Publishing Corporation in 1990 created “El Diccionario de Bolsillo de las MSDS.” This guide describes the terms and concepts commonly used in material safety data sheets .In 1995 Genium started publishing material safety data sheets in Spanish; the sheets were prepared between 1985 and 1995 and come in two three-ring binders. Krames Communications has a number of comic-book-type publications on occupational safety and health topics, such as back injuries and hazard communication. Krames publications tend to put all the responsibility for safety on the shoulders of the workers, and sometimes the illustrations could be offensive to the reader. Coastal Video Communications Corporation in Virginia Beach, Virginia, has produced booklets on asbestos, lockout, confined spaces, and other topics that are accompanied by videos on the same topics. They are in color, have many drawings, and are generally of good quality. The Dow Chemical Company has developed a pocket-size booklet “Como ‘llevarse bien’ con los Solventes,” originally prepared in 1975 for NIOSH. It is in a very simple format with line drawings on every page to illustrate the main point. It emphasizes that working safely with solvents is less dangerous than driving a car in heavy traffic. Our samples of educational materials from sources outside the United States ran the gamut from being very technical and dense with text, to being very worker-friendly with many graphics, cartoons, and photographs. Many of the materials were in a small paperback format and newsprint was often used for the inside. The Center for the Study of Workers’ Health in Ecuador, for example, has a series of such booklets on such topics as “Evaluation de los Riesgos por un Grupo de Trabajadores” (making risk maps is part of this) to “Safety on Machines.” The International Federation of Industrial Workers in Belgium (ICEF) has a guide for working with solvents that has good illustrations and a centerfold showing the proper gloves to wear with different kinds of solvents. Nicaragua’s Programa Centroamericano de Ciencias de la Salud del CSUCA produced a 90-page Manual Práctico de Seguridad Industrial under the direction of the Minister of Work that is done in a comic-book style with unsophisticated but appealing line drawings.
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary In Madrid, Spain, the Institute Nacional de Seguridad e Higiene en el Trabajo and the Unión General de Trabajadores have created eight booklets on such topics as “El Plomo Y Nuestra Salud” that are written simply with often humorous illustrations. El Institute Salud y Trabajo in Peru has a series on risk factors, such as Ruido, that are bi-fold brochures with little text and humorous illustrations. The institute has also collaborated with two other organizations there to produce a bi-fold brochure about “Silicosis y Otros Riesgos en el Trabajo de Producción de Refractarios” (heat resistant bricks). Peru’s Centro de Information Estudios y Documentation has developed a series of booklets on health and safety; one such is “Los Textiles,” which in a simple comic-book style, talks about the safety, health risks (including noise, chemical, biological, and sanitation) in the textile manufacturing industry. The Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario in Guadalajara, Mexico, developed a questionnaire in a light-hearted, comic-book format that asks the workers what they thought of the health and safety materials they developed (a list was attached) and how useful were they to the workers. The International Labor Organization’s Occupational Safety and Health Branch has a thirteen module curriculum—the modules come in a cardboard carrying case—“Su Salud y Seguridad en el Trabajo” that is available both in hard copy and in CD Rom. They also have a manual “Lista de Comprobacion: Ergonómica” which has graphics and isuser-friendly. In summary, there is a lot of Spanish-language material that has been developed for workers on health and safety. The quality is mixed, at best. Most of it is not useful for workers who have limited literacy and little education. Instead, the materials are too technical, too wordy, with little to no graphics to illustrate the key points. RECOMMENDATIONS The Need for a Systematic Approach to Materials Development From this review it appears that a fair amount of Spanish-language educational materials have been developed for both the construction and agricultural sectors, where Spanish-speaking workers have long worked in the United States. These have been developed for the construction trades primarily by commercial vendors and by the Center to Protect Worker Rights of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, which has developed 20 pocket cards (and flyers when the Spanish version was too long to fit on a pocket card). For the agricultural sector these have been developed primarily by the United Farm Workers Union, some coalitions on occupational safety and health (COSH) groups, the National Safety Council, The Environmental Protection Agency, and state health agencies. Although these materials exist, there is a need to make them user-friendlier with graphics and less dense text. Most importantly, at this point there is a need to target the other industries where Spanish-speaking workers predominate to assess where the gaps are regarding available, good quality, Spanish-language materials for those industries and to identify organizations that can develop those materials. Such industries include the manufacturing sector: garment work, textile work, lead battery plants, food processing and packing, furniture manufacturing, and electronics. In the service sector Spanish-speaking workers toil in large numbers: healthcare and homecare, domestic work, gardening, airport services, parking lot attendants, hotel, restaurant, auto repair, and janitorial and maintenance workers, to name a few.
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary With respect to janitorial and maintenance workers, there is now a need for Spanish-language information for those who clean up after bioterrorist attacks. This became apparent when it was found that many of those who cleaned office buildings near Ground Zero in New York City were immigrant workers from Colombia and Ecuador. In fact, of the 415 such workers examined by a mobile health unit at the site all the workers had health symptoms. They did not receive any health and safety information or training prior to doing the work. Instead, they were “given mops, rags and bags and told to remove inches of dust that coated the floors, walls and desks in offices. Most said they were not given protective equipment. Some workers who brought their own respirators said employers told them not to wear such protection” (Ramirez, 2002). In addition to sector-specific or job-specific materials, there is a need for educational materials on worker health and safety rights, including those that address the issue of rights of undocumented workers. Up until the March 27, 2002, Supreme Court ruling that an undocumented worker could not collect back pay after he was illegally fired for union-organizing activities, the Department of Labor has said that wage, hour, and safety regulations would be enforced vigorously for all workers, regardless of legal status. Since this ruling, employers have attempted, albeit it unsuccessfully, to fire workers when they raised health and safety issues. There is now a widespread belief among illegal immigrants that they no longer are protected under state and federal labor laws. As well as learning their rights, Spanish-speaking workers need to know where they can go for information about the hazards in their workplaces and where to turn to inside or outside their workplaces for additional information or assistance. The referrals, of course, will need to be to places where Spanish-language materials and Spanish-speaking individuals can assist. How The Materials Are Developed is Also Important There are a number of guidelines to follow when developing Spanish-language materials: It is undesirable to do straight translations from English materials, have someone who speaks Spanish on a daily basis write the text, keep the text at a medium-to-low literacy level, use plenty of graphics, and pilot test the material with a subgroup of the kinds of workers for whom it is intended so that you can get their input on content and mode of presentation. It is better to write the material in Spanish to begin with, because then there will be less of a risk that the writer is trying to conform to an English way of saying things. The writer then will be “freer” to say things in a more culturally sensitive and, hopefully, less technical way. If something is written in English first and then translated into Spanish, it will probably be a longer publication, because it often takes more words to say the same thing in Spanish. It is advisable to put key words in English also, for example, montacargas/forklifts. There is another reason to do this also; certain English words in particular, such as “Danger,” “Hard Hat Area,” “Do Not Enter,” “OSHA,” need to be understood by non-English speakers. It is always good to have an English version of whatever you have in Spanish in case the supervisor or co-workers speak English as their first language. There is a very effective video created by the California Department of Health Services’ Occupational Health Branch, “He’s Not the Man I Married….” (OHB) about lead exposure on the job that has part of the dialogue in Spanish and part in English. It is done in such an artful way that those who view it who are either English-speakers or Spanish-speakers can both understand what is taking place. Another thing to remember is that not all Spanish-speaking people have the same Spanish words for things. For example, in Nicaragua the common word for forklifts is mulas, but in Mexico it is montacargas. Puerto Rican Spanish is different from Mexican, and Mexican is different from El Salvadoran. Therefore, whenever possible, the translation should be in as generic a Spanish as possible.
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary Have someone who speaks Spanish on a daily basis, preferably a native speaker, write the Spanish text. Ideally, it should be someone who knows the topic well also. The computerized translation systems and computerized dictionaries can have errors or they may not capture the needed subtleties. Even comprehensive, well-respected dictionaries can lead you down the wrong path. For example, when looking up the Spanish word for forklifts, in Larousse’s Gran Diccionario it says that the correct word to use is carretilla or elevadora, and that montacargas means freight elevator. But, Spanish-speaking workers in California, at least, use montacargas as the term for forklifts. It is interesting to note that the NIOSH FACE program in Nebraska uses the term carretilla elevadora hidráulica on their fact sheet. Either this is what Spanish-speaking workers there understand to be forklifts or it is an example of a misleading translation. We have learned also that some words that are not so “loaded” in English can be very “loaded” in Spanish, and we need to be sensitive to these cultural differences. An example of this occurred when we were conducting ergonomic training; we found that workers were less likely to respond that they had pains (dolores), but they were willing to say that they had discomforts (molestias). It is important to have a native speaker help choose the graphics that are used so that the publication is both culturally sensitive and appealing to the intended readership. It is important to note again that the materials developed for workers in Spanish-speaking countries often used graphics that were somewhat humorous while still treating the worker with respect. Perhaps there is a lesson to learn here, as similar publications in the United States tend to be extremely serious. For the particular Spanish-speaking workers in the United States that need health and safety materials in manufacturing, agricultural, service, retail, and other such industries, it is important to keep the literacy level at medium to low. There are, of course, workers who read at a high level, but in order to reach all workers it is important to keep materials at a limited literacy level. I am not aware of any program that can be used to assess the literacy level of Spanish language materials. Our Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) program at UCLA developed a simple checklist for assessing the literacy level of such materials (see Box B-1). For easy readability and in order not to overwhelm the reader, it is important to develop these materials using many graphics, photos, or drawings to illustrate the points made. Another approach is to use a comic book or fotonovela style to present the information. Illustrated stories using a comic book format is a popular form of reading material for Spanish-speaking people who do not have advanced reading skills. Fotonovelas that have photographs of people and presented in a comic-book style are also well received. In order to ensure that the material you are developing is going to be useful to workers, it is important to pilot test drafts of materials with a subset of the group for which it is intended. This works best using a focus group of such workers. You can send the draft material to them prior to the group meeting or introduce it at the meeting. Create a list of questions you want to ask about usefulness, clarity, appropriate language and graphics, and other ideas they have on how to make it more useful and appealing to workers so that workers will want to read it. It is best not to have the developers of the material present in order to reduce the possibility that the workers will feel compelled to say something nice about the materials. A crucial question is how will the materials get into the hands of those who need to know? It is important that the producers of the materials create partnerships with relevant trade associations, worker organizations such as unions and worker advocacy groups, churches, medical providers who serve Spanish-speaking populations, businesses where Spanish-speaking people shop, libraries, and schools their children attend. The Internet at this time is one of the least likely channels to reach those who need to know in this particular target group, although the Internet should not be discounted entirely. Materials could be sent by e-mail to the conduit organizations identified here; such organizations could download the materials and distribute them to their constituencies, members, or clients.
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary And the ultimate question is how can the availability of these materials assist Spanish-speaking workers in improving health and safety conditions in the workplace? Spanish-speaking workers, whether undocumented or not, are often marginalized in their workplace or their union. In a recent study it was found that trainees, in a hazardous waste worker training program, for whom English was not their main language (mostly Spanish speakers) attempted action for workplace safety improvements as often as English speakers. However, the odds of their correcting problems were half that of the English-speaking workers. It was posited by the authors that, “this was due to a perceived lack of control over organizational resources for change, not simply due to communication barriers” (Cole, 1996). Box B-1 Checklist for Evaluating Literacy Level Title of Publication: Producer’s Name/Address: A. Content Yes No N/A 1. Are technical words explained? □ □ □ 2. Are simpler words used where possible? □ □ □ 3. Can you easily identify the key message in the text? □ □ □ B. Design 1. Is a large enough typeface used for the main text? □ □ □ 2. Is a serif typeface (with feet) used for the main text? □ □ □ 3. Do your sentences avoid large sections of CAPITAL LETTERS, bold type, or italics? □ □ □ C. Organization 1. Is the key “take home” information easy to find? □ □ □ 2. Are headings and subheadings used to help organize the text? □ □ □ 3. Are the margins wide to allow plenty of white space? □ □ □ D. Illustrations 1. Do illustrations help explain the text? □ □ □ 2. Are the illustrations clear and realistic? □ □ □ Key: 11–10 Low literacy 9–8 Low to medium 7–6 Medium 5–4 Medium to high 3–1 High SUMMARY There is a great need for more and better Spanish-language workplace health and safety materials for workers in the United States. There has been a need for some time, but the more recent workplace fatality reports have now brought the Spanish-speaking worker into the spotlight. A systematic approach should be undertaken that looks at where such workers work, what the risks are, what kinds of materials should be developed, and how they should be developed. Lessons can be learned from what has already been produced, but it is crucial that Spanish-speaking workers be involved in the development of new materials.
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author would like to give a special thanks to the following people for reviewing an earlier draft of this paper and giving me thoughtful comments: Juan DeLara, UCLA Labor Center for Research and Education; Matina Ramirez-Aguilar, Institute Nacional de Salud Publica in Cuernevaca, Mexico; and Tom O’Connor, Coordinator of the National Committees on Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) Network. REFERENCES Alas, Sonia, La Fuente Obrera: Materiales en Español de Salud y Seguridad Para Trabajadores y Profesionales de Salud, University of California at Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) Program, 1999. Cleeland, Nancy, “AFL-CIO Calls for Amnesty for Illegal U.S. Workers,” Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2000. Cole, Brian L. and Marianne Parker Brown, “Action on Worksite Health and Safety Problems: A Follow-up Survey of Workers Participating in a Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 30:730–743, (1996). Greenhouse, Steven, “Hispanic Workers Die at Higher Rate,” New York Times, July 16, 2001. Hedges, Joyce, “Fatalities Among Hispanic Workers Rising; Employers Urged to Provide More Training,” Occupational Safety & Health Reporter, The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington, D.C., September 27, 2001. Henshaw, John L., Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. Statement before the Subcommittee on Employment, Safety and Training, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, United States Senate, February 27, 2002, OSHA Website. Maier, Thomas, “Forgotten Victims: Agency Rarely Investigates On-the-job Deaths of Immigrants,” Newsday, July 23, 2001. NIOSH Update, NIIOSH Website, December 19, 2001. OHB (Occupational Health Branch), California Department of Health and Human Services, 1515 Clay Street, Suite 1901, Oakland, California, 94612, 510–622–4300. Ramirez, Margaret, “World Trade Center Minority Workers’ Ills Persist,” Newsday, April 28, 2002. Szudy, Elizabeth and Michele Gonzalez Arroyo, The Right to Understand: Linking Literacy to Health and Safety Training, Labor Occupational Health Program, University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Occupational Health Program, 1994.