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Completed Research

Latino Construction Worker Safety and Health Project (Completed – 2004-2009)

Michele Ochsner, MA, Ph.D.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
New Brunswick, NJ
Ph: (732)392-3780
ochsner@smlr.rutgers.edu

Dr. Ochsner partnered with New Labor, a worker center in New Jersey, and the Laborers Union to develop the Day Laborers Health and Safety Workbook and to evaluate this peer-led participatory approach to training. The program, which incorporates insights from focus groups of day laborers, meets the requirements for OSHA 10 training certification. Emphasizing worker participation, the training is customized to address the work situations and needs of day laborers. The team has provided training to more than 450 workers in six communities in northern and central New Jersey and has branched out to deliver training on fall protection methods and other safety skills to hundreds of day laborers waiting at corners for work.

This training approach is reaping benefits. The project evaluation found improvements in worker knowledge, attitudes, and work practices. Interviews with day laborers also suggest that workers who receive peer led health and safety training are not only more likely to protect themselves but also to engage crew leaders and supervisors in an effort to make changes and adopt safer work practices. In post-training surveys, day laborers report a significant increase in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and in self-protective work practices; reported injury rates have also declined. Day laborers also say they refer to the training materials and share the materials with friends and co-workers.

Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health are working with the Rutgers and New Labor team on a NIOSH-funded project to disseminate the curriculum and participatory training methods to worker centers in Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Original Project Abstract:

Rutgers OTEC Latino Construction Worker Safety and Health Project

The Rutgers University Occupational Training and Education Consortium (OTEC) in collaboration with the N.J. International Laborers Union (LIUNA) and New Labor (NL), a non-profit membership based organization of immigrant Hispanic workers, will conduct a three-year study to evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative Spanish language health and safety education and training program for non-union Hispanic day laborers in construction.

This project will leverage the skills and resources of each of these organizations including the particular expertise in construction health and safety offered by LIUNA, OTEC’s skills in developing and evaluating worker facilitated, participatory health and safety training programs, and New Labor’s experiences in pioneering interactive Spanish language training to develop and mobilize health and safety activists.

Specific aims include:

  • Adding to the knowledge base about the health and safety needs of Hispanic day laborers through a baseline evaluation which compares union and non-union cohorts of Hispanic construction laborers.
  • Development and delivery of an industry recognized intervention (a Spanish language version of the OSHA 10 hour construction health and safety training program) to a minimum of 200 non-union Hispanic day laborers over a two year period.
  • An evaluation of the impact of the intervention.
  • Integration of the health and safety training program with OTEC and New Labor’s ongoing health and safety-training activities with the targeted population.
  • Wide dissemination of the training curriculum, evaluation data and descriptions of the intervention.

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