UNSAFE WORKING CONDITIONS
Roofing Work is Hot, Dirty and Dangerous
On a visit by community leaders to a non-union work site, "workers told us that work had stopped because they thought we were OSHA inspectors, and they did not want to be cited for unsafe work practices...Workers commented that safety goggles and fall protection harnesses are more of a bother than they are worth...In spite of [very windy]conditions, we saw workers without fall protection walking along slanted roofs, which we were told was a violation of OSHA regulations...Overall, the 'culture' of the site seemed to downgrade the importance of workplace safety."
According to the D.C.-based Center to Protect Workers Rights, for example, nationally "the number of Hispanic construction fatalities has increased at an alarming rate...[ up] 40.7 % in 1997."
In the NCOSH survey, workers reported inadequate safety training and practices:
Safety training is inadequate, usually all in English: "They just give us a sheet and say sign this 'safety' ...It's all in English. It should be in Spanish so we'll understand it 100%....What did it say? Who knows?" [Only one-third of the workers reported getting regular, high-quality training in Spanish.]
"You learn by yourself [about safety]. Nobody tells you anything."
"[I learned] since I was 12 years old, when I began to work...you have to learn to protect yourself, because we don't know our rights here."
"[Some bosses are strict about safety, but] some bosses...if you tie yourself off [with safety lines], they get mad because it slows you down."
"Fewer than half the workers reported that they were generally provided with personal fall arrest equipment when...exposed to fall hazards."