For Immediate Release
April 1, 2016
Contact: Armando Carmona, firstname.lastname@example.org, (323) 250-3018
RELEASE: Day Laborer Organizations host OSHA Health and Safety Training to Emphasize Spanish Language Certification and Worker Justice
LOS ANGELES, CA— In partnership with the United Steelworkers Union, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, with the support of The Labor Institute began the first national effort to certify organizers and worker leaders from across the country to deliver and issue the OSHA 10 training to the Day Laborer Community. On Monday March 28th, the first of two week-longtrainings that are required to become a certified OSHA Outreach Trainer in Construction was launched at the UCLA Labor Center.
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is designed to create workplace standards that ensure the safety of workers in the United States. Day laborers are particularly susceptible to accidents and dangerous working conditions because they are usually hired informally, on a temporary basis, with low wages and are not given the proper health and safety tools and training to protect themselves. Additionally, the Day Laborer workforce is often comprised of immigrants that are not always fully aware of their rights as workers, or do not exercise their rights for fear of retaliation.
Rodrigo Toscano, Project Director at the Labor Institute said: “This effort began about 5 years ago during Hurricane Sandy. After Sandy a lot of Immigrant workers participated in the cleanup, they went out and got hurt, and some got killed by improper use of power tools or were thrown into hazardous situations, many got injured and exposed to mold, toxic substances, lead. After that, we decided to work together to the situation. We needed to create Spanish speaking OSHA instruction to reach the vast numbers of Day Laborers across the country. This is also a way for worker centers to organize people in the community on basic worker rights, how to inform them, and inspire them to assert their rights in the workplace.”
In California alone, there was a rise in workplace related deaths among Latinos which was highlighted by the Worksafe.org 2015 annual report . The report states that 2013 witnessed 194 Latino work-related deaths which is an estimated 49% of all deaths in the state even though Latinos represent roughly 30% of the workforce. The report points out the consequences of health and safety hazards by stating that: “Undocumented immigrant workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and retaliation. Temporary and contract workers and day laborers are also at great risk, as employers try to avoid responsibility for health and safety and workers’ compensation by contracting out dangerous work.”
Raquel Botello from La Colectiva, a worker-run cleaning collective in San Francisco, CA said: “For me it was a great opportunity. There are so many things we don’t know about protecting workers, their health, their security. This training has a lot of new information, that even those that are in construction industry aren’t aware of.”
Marilu Fructuoso from Austin, Texas said: “We now have a lot to take back to our community, to Day Laborers. How to protect ourselves, how to defend ourselves, how to avoid hurting ourselves, how to avoid death in the workplace. It was very important for me to learn that workers have a lot of tools they can use to defend themselves, and how to protect their health and safety. It is very important and very relevant.”
As the highly toxic and racially charged anti-immigrant rhetoric has intensified across the United States, the burden of upholding workers’ rights in the face of threats and retaliation has again increased for immigrant workers. This training not only serves to bolster knowledge of workplace safety and health standards, it also debunks the myth that immigrant workers accept lower workplace standards.Those participating will be NDLON Staff, members of the Pasadena Community Job Center, workers and staff from IDEPSCA and CARECEN, and worker-leaders and organizers from day laborer organizations across the country.
These participants identify as a vital part of the workforce, and are leading the push to train others on how to avoid and prevent accidents, recognize and report irresponsible employers, and make all workplaces safer and healthier. This cohort will take its second OSHA training from April 25 to April 29, 2016.