Cambio de Colores 2005

Latinos in Missouri:
Connecting Research to Policy and Practice
Hoy y Mañana

Reynolds Alumni Center, University of Missouri-Columbia,
March 30, 31 & April 1st, 2005

Workplace Safety and Health Issues Affecting the Hispanic Workforce

Theme: Civil Rights

Learning Station by Mark Banden, Compliance Assistant Specialist; and Manuel Olmedo, Area Director, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Kansas City Area Office.

Mark Banden, Compliance Assistant Specialist for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in Kansas City, began the station describing the agency’s overall mission, to promote safety and make every employer and employee in the nation recognize that occupational safety and health add value to American life.

He said that OSHA is especially concerned with Hispanics in the workplace as they have a disproportionately high percentage work-related injury and illness. In 2000, Hispanics made up 10.2 percent of employed workers, but accounted for 17.1% of all nonfatal injury and illness cases.

He also said the foreign-born workers in general are more likely to be employed in higher-risk and lower-wage industries such as agriculture, construction, and service industries.

According to Manuel Olmedo, OSHA’s Area Director, immigrants may not file a complaint about safety because they fear losing their jobs. He said that all workers, regardless of their legal status, have a right to file an OSHA complaint and complaints can be filed in Spanish.

“I think some Hispanics are reluctant to exercise their rights because they’re grateful to have a job,” he said.

Banden pointed out that names are always withheld from the employer to protect a worker’s anonymity.

OSHA complaints can be filed in one of two ways. One can file a formal, written complaint, the turnaround time for which can be up to one month, or call or fax in a complaint, the turnaround time of which is much faster.

To contact OSHA, one may call the Kansas City office, which serves all of Missouri, at 816-483-9542 and ask to speak to the duty officer. A national toll-free number is also available, and Spanish-speaking operators are available at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

Day 3, Friday April 1- Learning Stations, 9:30-10:45 AM

By Jack Beesson

By Jack Beeson

This conference report contributed by

Mid-Missouri bilingual newspaper.