Approximately 32.8 million persons of Hispanic descent live in the United States, half of whom were born outside the United States (Therrien and Ramirez, 2000). By the year 2050, it is expected that Hispanics will constitute more than 25 percent of the total U.S. population and approximately 15 percent of the U.S. labor force. These estimates and the fact that 90 percent of Hispanic American men and 60 percent of Hispanic American women participate in the U.S. workforce strongly suggest a need for occupational safety and health information in Spanish.
The growing presence of Spanish-speaking workers and employers in the United States and the unprecedented 12-percent increase in the overall rate of workplace fatalities among Hispanic workers in 2000 highlights the need to better communicate occupational safety and health information in Spanish to both employees and employers. To address this need the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is preparing a strategy for developing and disseminating Spanish-language occupational safety and health educational and technical material. To gather information necessary to create this strategic plan the National Research Council (NRC) was asked to host a workshop. The committee commissioned five white papers (see Appendices D-H) and organized a workshop on May 29-30, in San Diego, California.
Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary is a synopsis of the presentations and discussions at the workshop. It does not contain any conclusions and recommendations. The conclusions and recommendations in the white papers represent the views of the authors and not necessarily those of the committee or the NRC. It is intended as input to the NIOSH strategic planning in this area. Chapter 2 discusses the available information and identifies information gaps regarding risks and adverse events for Latino workers. Chapter 3 examines the available health and safety training resource materials for Latino workers, especially for those with little or no English capabilities; in particular, it discusses issues of the linguistic and cultural appropriateness of materials. Chapter 4 considers issues surrounding the assessment of existing materials and the development of new materials. Chapter 5 discusses the various means of conveying information to Spanish-speaking workers, again focusing on cultural appropriateness and ways of maximizing understanding. Chapter 6 summarizes the discussion in the prior chapters and presents some overarching issues raised by the workshop attendees.