At the beginning of IWJ’s train-the-trainers workshop yesterday, I asked workers, “Que haces para ganarte la vida?” meaning, “What do you do for a living?”
As usual, their responses were some of the most dangerous jobs out there, typical for immigrant and low-wage workers.
Then, I asked them another question for which I didn’t need an answer—just their reflection, “Que haces cada dia que te ponga en riesgo de perder tu vida en el sitio de trabajo?” I asked, “What do you do everyday that can make you lose your life while at the workplace?”
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides funding for these trainings each year. Yesterday's session was the third training session for 2012, and more are set for later this year. The nine community leaders and organizers from Chicago and Cincinnati who attended the workshop are now ready to spread the word among their coworkers, and to advocate for health and safety in the workplace.
Training topics include:
- Hazard identification in the workplace
- The hierarchy of hazards control,
- Worker health and safety rights
- How to take action and negotiate for safer working conditions.
Workers should not die on the job; their jobs should not make them sick or leave them disabled. A good job is a safe job that pays fair. Often, employers of immigrant and low-income workers keep this information from workers even though they are required by law to provide the safest possible workplace, communicate any possible hazards workers might encounter in their workday and to help them be protected from any risks.
It still amazes me that workers in the U.S. need to be taught that they have the right to a workplace free of known hazards. Workers should not die on the job; their jobs should not make them sick or leave them disabled. A good job is a safe job that pays fair.
Maria E. Gutierrez is Interfaith Worker Justice’s national Health and Safety Coordinator. She coordinates and leads IWJ’s OSHA funded workplace safety trainings. Contact Maria for information regarding IWJ's next health and safety training.