The United States, and the Southwest in particular, is home to very high numbers of immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries, many of whom work in high-risk jobs such as construction and oil extraction. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, which is published yearly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consistently shows above-average fatality rates for Hispanic workers, and regulators are stepping up their efforts to bring those numbers down.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), its counterpart in the Department of Labor, are joining forces to expand the publication of safety materials in Spanish. Spanish-speaking immigrants are at a disadvantage, they believe, because they don't have access to the same information on avoiding hazards as their English-speaking peers.
Moreover, immigrant workers often neglect to report safety violations because they're afraid of losing their jobs or even being deported. Part of the aim of the materials is to inform workers about their rights, which include whistleblowing without being subject to repercussions.
The agencies are focusing especially on states like Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, which have the highest numbers of Hispanic workers. As this blog reported recently, OSHA launched an initiative specifically for oil well safety in those areas which includes the publication of safety information in Spanish.
NIOSH and OSHA have also emphasized the importance of employers' roles in preserving their workers' well-being. Companies can engage the services of a safety management company that can provide accident prevention training to workers and supervisors alike.