Understanding Workplace Health and Safety in Construction

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately two Latino/a workers died every day in 2011 due to work-related injuries, with the majority occurring in construction, which continues to be the most dangerous industry in the United States.  The deaths may have occurred because of poor training, judgment, or work environments, or due to the lack of safety equipment.  Whatever the cause, the fact is most of these deaths could’ve been prevented, as can the majority of accidents that do not result in death.  Yet steps to ensure proper training, safe work environments, and adequate equipment must be in place and provided to ensure injuries and deaths do not continue. 

As a result of this problem, the HWC began to develop its Health and Safety Training Institute, which provides health and safety trainings and defends and promotes worker rights.  Through this institute, the HWC began developing a partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health (UNMC-COPH) to better understand some of the health and safety issues affecting Latino/a workers in both the construction and cleaning industries by surveying 50 workers from each of the aforementioned industries.  As of today, 39 construction workers have been surveyed on workplace-related injuries and illnesses and trainings, with our goal to complete the survey in construction by the end of May.  A small group of these workers are also participating in hearing assessments to measure their hearing loss and offer recommendations to avoid further loss.  Once all the surveys have been analyzed, the findings and recommendations will be presented in a community forum during the Summer of 2013.  The HWC will begin surveying workers in the cleaning industry in the Fall of 2013.

As a result of this survey, the HWC hopes to have a better understanding of the experiences of Latino/a construction workers in Omaha and Nebraska and offer practical recommendations for all workers and companies that employ Latino/a workers that can be implemented in the workplace.

The HWC is also creating its own OSHA training and educational material using popular education techniques, and implementing a marketing strategy to attract a variety of small- to medium-sized companies in both the construction and cleaning industries.  The next 10-hour OSHA training for Construction workers will be held June 2 and June 9 at the HWC office.  For more information on this training, contact us at 402.933.6095 or by email at hwc@heartlandworkerscenter.org.