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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary 5 Delivery Mode Well-developed educational materials by themselves do not always assure that the workers who need them will be reached. As discussed earlier, it is important that materials be used in the context of a well-planed educational intervention. These interventions are best delivered by trusted sources and preferably in multiple ways. People are social in nature and adult learning principles tell us that the most effective learning occurs in small groups or units where there are personal relationships and an established level of trust. It is important that people are in a comfortable setting and trust those delivering the information. Frequently, safety and health practices are learned on the job site through peer training or in social settings where acquaintances discuss what they have learned. The importance of personal contact in these circumstances should not be underestimated. There are many existing trusted channels of communication that could be used. For example, many local and state health departments, clinics, and community groups already have outreach for certain subjects. Incorporation of occupational safety and health information into current messages, courses, or information could make use of these networks. Some community and grassroots organizations are providing workers with different services and may be able to share safety and health information at the same time. They may be able to implement the philosophy that giving people what they desire provides the opportunity to teach them something new. At the workshop an example was given of a group of women in a small village who wanted to learn to crochet. While it would have been difficult to gain their trust and teach them about health and hygiene from the outset, the instructor first taught them how to crochet. Then during the crochet exercises she taught them health and hygiene principles. In addition, the reason the women wanted to learn to crochet was to make items to sell in order to generate income to buy food for their children. Not only did the project gain their trust, it gave them additional means to improve the health of their families. Many Hispanic people are religious and trust their local churches. Using the churches and their auxiliary groups is another way to reach Hispanic workers. Schools present another important and largely unused channel of communication. Many Hispanic workers are migrant workers and move from area to area depending on the season. Sometimes their children are placed in schools with no bilingual programs or teachers. These children sit in class until it is time to move on and miss out on a learning opportunity. Children in school can be taught safety and health principles that they can pass on to their families or implement later in their lives. In order to do this, culturally and linguistically appropriate materials need to be given to children both for their own instruction, and to pass on to adults. Within the limited-English, Spanish-speaking workforce, particularly among the recently arrived immigrants who work in high-risk fields, health- and safety-related information is exchanged orally and informally among co-workers. Effective strategies should consider ways to provoke discussion among workers. If such oral discourse can be encouraged, there is improved retention of information (both by the worker who communicates the information and the listener). There has been a good deal of attention in Latin America to these dynamics in connection with “popular education” campaigns and in the United States as part of efforts such as HIV prevention campaigns.
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary Another mode of communication is the use of new technology, such as computer-based learning and access to information on the Internet. However, these channels pose a dilemma. Many people in our society look to the Internet for information and education, and it can contain an enormous amount of information helpful to workers. The Internet can be a great forum for sharing and exchanging information. Internet forums such as listserves, clearinghouses, and chat rooms can provide up-to-date training or informational materials for people who know how to use them. However, it contains so much information that it may be difficult to find appropriate and well-developed materials. Access to the Internet is increasing rapidly. However, there is a significant “digital divide”—only 31.6 percent of Hispanics use this tool (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2002). If the target audience is Hispanic workers with low literacy levels, the percentage shrinks even further. Even when the Internet is accessed it lacks the human contact and group interaction element that is essential for effective adult education. On balance it was felt that the Internet is a better tool for disseminating material to trainers who in turn will teach Hispanic workers, rather than as a primary tool for reaching Spanish-speaking workers directly. One important mode of dissemination that came up frequently during the workshop is the Spanish-language mass media. There are Spanish newspapers throughout the United States, and many metropolitan areas may have several of these newspapers. Many rural areas with concentrations of Latino immigrants have weekly Spanish newspapers. There has also been an increase in Spanish-language magazines. While periodicals reach many people, there is still the obstacle of low literacy levels among workers. Fortunately the Spanish media are not limited to the written word, and the number of Spanish television and radio stations is rapidly increasing. In the past, information from television and the radio was limited to public service announcements. There are currently a variety of options available, such as providing subjects for talk shows, news shows, and integrating health and safety into regular television programming. Another advantage of mass media is that the media can reach multiple important audiences, including workers, small employers, and even families of workers, all of whom may have no other way to receive the information. Again, there is the issue of program effectiveness seldom being systematically evaluated. As recommended in a recent Institute of Medicine report, it is essential to begin funding and conducting appropriate evaluations of such large, costly, and potentially important interventions (NRC, 2002). Because many Hispanic workers come from Mexico, it was suggested that collaboration with Mexican agencies could benefit both countries by teaching workers safety and health while they are in Mexico. Therefore the workers would be better prepared if they were to come to the United States. There are many other possible channels of dissemination, and they include: unions representing large numbers of Spanish-speaking workers; Spanish-speaking and other employers; universities and colleges (United Association for Labor Education); National Injured Workers Group; Mexican consulates; trade associations; suppliers (e.g., personal protective equipment, chemicals); immigrant rights groups; small business centers (Small Business Administration); U.S. government agencies (OSHA, NIOSH); other government agencies, such as Mexican consulates and the Mexican Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores Institute para Mexicanos en el Exterior, and Secretaria de Salud; workers’ centers; and adult education classes.
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Safety is Seguridad: A Workshop Summary It is clear that there are many modes, methods, and channels of disseminating information. Some have proven to be successful in areas where the Hispanic community has had time to become established. However, Hispanic workers are now moving to diverse areas throughout the entire United States. In order to reach these workers with safety and health training and information it may be best to implement a combination of strategies.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: