Business rules must catch up to growing Latino work force

As many North Bay companies in the construction, agricultural, manufacturing and other industries hire an increasing number of Latin American immigrant workers, it’s imperative that these companies’ business owners, HR personnel and supervisors understand and have clear communication with these employees on safety precautions, rules and procedures on the job.

Latinos are hard workers but tend to have frequent injuries. They take more risks on the job because safety has often never been a consideration in the Latin American companies where they previously worked.

Many times they don’t understand the American company’s safety procedures and policies. Other actions they may take because of language and cultural differences may include not reporting incidents because they don’t want to rock the boat and lose their jobs. Latinos may also indicate an understanding of safety procedures when they really don’t because of the language barrier.

In fact, workplace fatalities have increased sharply for Latino and immigrant workers, according to the new 2008 AFL-CIO annual study “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect.” In 2006, fatal injuries among Latino workers increased by 7 percent over 2005, with 990 fatalities among this group of workers, the highest number ever reported.

To reduce the number of Latino worker injuries, retain good employees, prevent your workers’ comp costs from skyrocketing and be prepared for increasing government action enforcing immigration law, additional effort and time must be exerted with your Latino work force.

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