Evaluating the Efficacy of Safety Liaisons and Worker Training (Completed – 2009-2014)
Michele Ochsner, PhD
Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey
New Brunswick, NJ
Carmen Martino, Rutgers University; Betsy Marshall, PhD, the School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; New Labor, a worker center in New Jersey; and LIUNA-NJ Local 55.
This year the Rutgers and New Labor worker center project team forged important new partnerships with unions, worker centers and researchers. These partners enabled the team to share its innovative safety training curriculum with a wider audience and to increase our team’s own safety training capabilities.
The team began an exciting collaboration with the Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC), an arm of the United Steelworkers Union with a long tradition of peer-led occupational health and safety training similar to that of the project team. The Steelworkers, who are working with workers’ centers in a growing number of cities, were interested in the Rutgers/New Labor curriculum for construction day laborers and the delivery techniques employed. In turn the TMC provided advanced instruction to four safety liaisons and two New Labor staff who are now authorized OSHA Outreach Trainers, able to deliver the OSHA 10-hour construction hazard awareness course to other immigrant workers.
These new capabilities, and partnerships with New Yorkbased workers centers like Make the Road and Workers Justice Project enabled project safety liaisons to recruit and train more than 120 New York and New Jersey construction workers in the OSHA-10 curriculum. The annual safety liaison training retreat included 11 continuing safety liaisons and four new liaisons drawn from New Labor and its new partners. After New Labor opened an office in the Ironbound section of Newark in February, both New Labor and the safety liaison project began seeing greater interest among contractors, some of whom have brought their crews to OSHA-10 classes.
Thanks to national partners like Chicago-based Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) and the Los Angeles-based National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON), the researchers’ curriculum has touched workers across the United States. Over three years, nearly 500 workers in seven cities earned OSHA-10 cards using the curriculum (sometimes modified for local conditions). Hurricane Sandy cleanup occupies a large number of immigrant construction workers. Demolition and remediation prior to rebuilding can expose workers to chemical, mold, and electrical hazards seldom encountered in new construction. With support from an OSHA grant, safety liaisons are doing street corner outreach, conducting brief hazard awareness training programs targeted at workers in this sector.
Safety liaisons continue to perform curbside safety audits, assessing safety practices at their own and other neighborhood construction sites, and collecting data for reporting on general safety conditions in the industry and setting safety training priorities. In 2012, these efforts earned Rutgers labor educator Carmen Martino and the “New Labor Team” the COSH National Education and Training Award.
- The team presented findings in two peer-reviewed journal articles, one CPWR report, and four national conference presentations.
- Peer trainers facilitated five OSHA-10 classes, with 127 Latino, Brazilian and Portuguese laborers and ten contractors participating.
- The team recruited two new safety liaisons to join the existing team of 11.
- Safety liaisons completed 50 safety audits on residential construction sites. Liaisons reported discussing hazards with supervisors at 42% of these sites and with workers at 60%. They also filed two OSHA complaints, one of which resulted in an investigation and citations.