ASSE: Stepping Up Efforts to Protect Latino Workers

Even though private injury and illness rates dropped 35 percent between 1992 and 2001, fatalities among Latino workers in the United States increased by 67 percent during the same period, a fact the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) wants to change.

Even though Latino fatalities decreased by 6 percent in 2002, the 840 deaths in 2002 represent the second highest annual total of Latino worker fatalities recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to date. At ASSE's annual Professional Development Conference Exposition held this week in Las Vegas, the ASSE board approved the formation of a new "Safety Professionals and the Latino Workforce" (SPALW) common interest group.

On June 8, close to 60 ASSE members from a variety of industries and locations around the United States attended SPALW's first meeting and discussed such issues as lagging translations, hands-on training versus textbook, and overcoming the cultural and language barriers. They also discussed how to work together to identify and develop resources to increase safety for the Latino workforce.

SPALW is open to all ASSE members and non-members. It was formed by ASSE to assist Latino individuals and those who work with Latinos in all industries to improve safety among this workforce, a group that has witnessed a major increase in serious workplace accidents nationwide, according to ASSE Regional Vice President and Council on Member and Region Affair's Diversity Committee Chair Fred Miller. ASSE recognized and promoted the need for involvement by the members to successfully reach the goals of the new group. Miller noted that the cultural gap, communication barriers and training deficiencies have been identified as major influences on the increasing accident rates. The new interest group is chaired by ASSE member Hector Escarcega.

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