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 and middle level managers are clear in communication with these employees on safety precautions, rules and procedures on the job.

Employing Latino employees – which is increasingly the case with many North Bay companies in these industries – presents additional challenges because of the language and cultural barriers and the government’s increasing pressure on companies to enforce Cal/OSHA compliance.

Latinos are hard workers but tend to get 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 the language and cultural differences may include not reporting incidents because they don’t want to rock the boat and lose their jobs.  They may also indicate an understanding of safety procedures when they really don’t because of the language barrier.

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

You need to make sure that they receive and understand the company safety procedures and policies, usually in their own language; feel comfortable with the company culture; and understand the employee’s and employer’s rights and responsibilities in Cal/OSHA compliance.

This seventh-annual conference on March 15, “Latinos in the Workplace” will provide information for business owners and their middle level managers on how to empower their Latino workforce to greater productivity through proper communication, education, wellness, safety initiatives, while helping companies better understand their culture and belief systems. The subjects to be covered include safety, wellness, communication, OSHA compliance and supervisor leadership.

Speakers include:  Efren Carrillo, Sonoma County Supervisor, Evelina Villa, Communication Specialist, Cindy Gillespie, Amy’s Kitchen, Dr. Jason Cunningham, Medical Director, West County Health Centers, Christopher A. Kerosky, Esq, Immigration Specialist and Chief Ellen Widness, Cal/OSHA.

 This Workshop will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 12 noon in Santa Rosa, on March 15 at the Flamingo Hotel and Resort at 2777 FourthSt. The cost per person is $45 for ECA, NCBE and 101MFG members and $50 for nonmembers.

Conference organizers are the Engineering Contractors Association and VANTREO Insurance Brokerage.

 To sign up or for more information, call Mary Kennedy at ECA at 707-546-5500 or obtain a registration form from the events section of www.nceca.org.           •••

Michael D. Lopez - As Vice President of VANTREO Insurance Brokerage, Mr. Lopez provides leading-edge risk reduction strategies for builders, developers, and manufacturers seeking innovative commercial insurance solutions. His insurance expertise is based on more than 20-years in the industry, and highlights in-depth knowledge of risk management and workers’ compensation insurance.  Mike holds the following professional designations: Construction Risk and Insurance Specialist (CRIS), and Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) Mike can be reached at 707-546-2300, x237, mlopez@vantreo.com  or www.vantreo.com.