Training Hispanic Workers

Strategies for Safety and Health Training Bilingual Workforce

Ideas for Effectively Training Your Hispanic Workers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Hispanic labor force increased 36 percent times faster than other ethnic groups between 1996 and 2006 and will make up more than 15 percent of the U.S. workforce and 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. While overall workplace fatalities have dropped 20 percent in the last decade, workplace fatalities among Hispanic workers, especially those working in the construction industry, have risen almost 35 percent in the same period.

The effective training of Hispanic workers is high on OSHA's radar screen these days. The Agency has created a Hispanic website and made resources available in Spanish, including a Hispanic hotline for safety and health questions. BLR also has many Spanish training resources available, including Spanish audio PowerPoint presentations and Spanish audio safety toolbox talks. 

Here are some strategies for safety and health training in a bilingual workforce: 

  • Establish companywide safety policies supported by top management. 
  • Ensure supervisors are bilingual. Provide ESL (English as a second language) and Spanish classes for employees. 
  • Ensure that signage (safety guidelines, emergency evacuation, warnings, etc.) is provided in Spanish and include diagrams or symbols. 
  • Ensure that negative reinforcements are incorporated as a response to unsafe actions. 
  • Pair new employees with veteran employees who comply with safety and health guidelines. 
  • Use hands-on learning methods. Tools and equipment should be part of the training, and employees should be involved in testing and demonstrating the safe actions. 

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Conduct periodic jobsite visits and work with employees in the field. Provide demonstrations, then have employees demonstrate to one another. Do this through toolbox talks or other regular, informal safety meetings.