Millions of individuals in the workforce are faced with jobs where they are not guaranteed a safe and healthy work environment. Immigrants (especially Latino immigrants), low-literacy workers, young workers and low-wage workers are particularly vulnerable. Through grants from NIOSH, the Public Welfare Foundation, and Susan Harwood, IWJ National and its Worker Centers are rapidly expanding their health and safety work, doing outreach, training, and organizing of workers.
Who is most at risk?
- Latino workers are more likely to die from an injury at work than White and African American workers.
- In 2007, 937 Latinos, the majority of them immigrants, were killed by an injury at work. The occupational fatality rate for Latinos has remained the highest in the nation for 15 years.
- Also, surveys indicate that government records of serious injuries and illnesses are conspicuously low for Latinos. Underreporting is a result of the many barriers facing many low-wage and immigrant workers.
- Barriers exist and make it difficult for workers to receive training on health and safety hazards on the job or to even receive accessible information.
- Often workers lack English proficiency, are transient (Day laborers are often not at the same worksite from week to week let alone day to day), have a general fear of retaliation for filing complaints or speaking up on the job, are unaware of ways to access government assistance, and work for smaller companies and businesses that do not have established health and safety training programs.
- But the Latino death toll is just part of the story. American workplace health and safety standards are in a state of decay for all workers. 5,657 workers of all backgrounds died on the job in 2007.
What is IWJ doing to address health and safety in the workplace?
- Through grants from NIOSH, the Public Welfare Foundation, and Susan Harwood, IWJ National and its Worker Centers are rapidly expanding their health and safety work, doing outreach, training, and organizing of workers.
- Our Worker Centers have begun collecting stories on workplace injuries and illnesses, as well as conducting surveys of workers to learn the scope of health and safety violations in their communities. Worker Centers are sending members to trainings, facilitated by IWJ National staff, so that these members can conduct trainings for other workers back home. And many of our centers host public forums on health and safety and conduct legislative visits to urge passage of laws that will protect American workers.
- IWJ re-grants funds to worker centers to conduct health and safety trainings of their own for workers, develops training materials for industries with the worst record of health and safety violation, builds relationships with OSHA and strategizes to promote OSHA reform and best practices.
- Follow this link to see training resources that IWJ and its affiliated worker centers have developed.
When is the next health and safety training?
To help workers learn about their rights under OSHA, how to make a worksite safer and how to help other workers learn and organize, attend the next IWJ health and safety training. Email us for more information.