Background: Immigrant Latino day laborers working in residential construction are at particularly high risk of fatal and non-fatal traumatic injury and benefit from targeted training.
Objective: To understand the impact of a participatory, peer-facilitated health and safety awareness training customized to the needs of Latino day laborers.
Methods: Baseline surveys exploring exposures, PPE use, attitudes, work practices and work-related injuries were collected from more than 300 New Jersey Latino day laborers in construction prior to their participation in a one day (minimum of six hour) Spanish language health and safety training class. The classes, led by trained worker trainers, engaged participants in a series of tasks requiring teamwork and active problem solving focused on applying safe practices to situations they encounter at their worksites. Follow-up surveys were difficult to obtain among mobile day laborers, and were collected from 70 men (22% response rate) 2-6 months following training. Chi-square analysis was used to compare pre- and post-intervention PPE use, self protective actions, and self-reported injury rates. Focus groups and in-depth interviews addressing similar issues provided a context for discussing the survey findings.
Results: At baseline, the majority of day laborers who participated in this study reported great concern about the hazards of their work and were receptive to learning about health and safety despite limited influence over employers. Changes from baseline to follow-up revealed statistically significant differences in the use of certain types of PPE (hard hats, work boots with steel toes, safety harnesses, and visible safety vests), and in the frequency of self-protective work practices (e.g., trying to find out more about job hazards on your own). There was also a suggestive decrease in self-reported injuries (receiving an injury at work serious enough that you had to stop working for the rest of the day) post-training based on small numbers. Sixty-six percent of workers surveyed post-training reported sharing information from their safety workbook with friends and co-workers. Focus groups and interview results generally confirmed the quantitative findings.
Conclusions: Participatory, peer led training tailored to the needs of construction day laborers may have a positive effect on Latino immigrant workers' attitudes, work practices, and self reported injury rates, but major changes would require employer engagement.
Impact on industry: Health and safety researchers have identified reducing the number of traumatic injuries among the immigrant construction workforce as an increasingly important priority. This project provides one model for collaboration between university-based researchers, a union, and a community-based organization. The specific elements of this project-participatory curriculum customized to the needs of day laborers in residential construction, training day laborers to facilitate training classes, and involving peer leaders in outreach and research-could be adapted by other organizations. The findings of this study suggest that the Latino day laborers have a strong interest in and some ability to act on health and safety information. Widespread implementation of this type of training, especially if supported with cooperation from residential contractors, could lead to reduced rates of traumatic injury in the residential construction industry.
(c) 2010 National Safety Council. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.