A half-hour film — believed to be the first orientation video in the United States specifically dedicated to the safety rights and responsibilities of Latino workers, especially in the construction and manufacturing trades — will be screened for the first time in a free, public program Monday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. in the Sorensen Unity Center (1383 South 900 West).
The new film — Por el Bien de los Suyos (For the Sake of your Loved Ones) — is part of the ongoing Spanish Language Film Series presented by the SLC Film Center. The film — in Spanish with English subtitles — was directed by Mike Arnow and was made with the support of the Utah Labor Commission. Following the screening, a panel discussion on the issues surrounding the high risks for injury of Latino workers will feature Arnow; Elena Bensor of the Utah Labor Commission; Luis Silva, diirector of Utah OSHA, and Tony Yapias, director of Projecto Latino.
Arnow says the film — which covers a fairly comprehensive amount of ground in its compact format — focuses on three areas: why is it that Latino workers have a higher incidence of workplace injury than non-Latino workers, the emotional and financial impact upon families where the primary household income earner has been injured, and what workers should know about workplace safety and the channels for addressing concerns when injuries do occur. “We know, for example, that many workers in their countries were used to balancing themselves precariously, especially in high-rise construction projects,” Arnow explains. “Often they would work without the benefit of safety harnesses or safety railings, so obviously that is what they would expect when they start working in the United States.”
Indeed national statistics emphasize the problem. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from 1992 to 2006, finding a total of 11,303 work-injury deaths for Latinos. That number accounted for approximately 13 percent of all fatalities from occupation-related deaths in the U.S. The Latino workers’ annual rate of death due to work-related injury exceeded the rate for all U.S. workers for every year except 1995.
Of all Latino workers who died from work-related injuries in 2003-2006, 67 percent of them were foreign born, of whom approximately 70 percent was born in Mexico. The study also noted non-fatal occupational injury and illness rates are also higher among Hispanic workers. The full report is available here.
Arnow’s film precisely hits at what needs to be done to prevent workplace injuries and death. Most importantly, the film delivers information in culturally appropriate and effective forms for non-English-proficient workers, who may have varying levels of literacy and familiarity with conventional American work site procedures and rules.
Arnow — who heads the nonprofit Center for Educational Programming — says films like this serve dual purposes of educating immigrants and refugees about how they can lead healthy, law-abiding lives in the United States as well as breaking down cultural barriers of misunderstanding that often deflect the focus from constructive engagement in the workplace and in the community. Earlier, Arnow and Utah public officials (including attorney Mark Alvarez whose writings are familiar to regular Selective Echo readers) produced an orientation video for immigrants and refugees dealing with immigration laws, law enforcement, and police relations.
Arnow’s new film is being made widely available by the Utah Labor Commission for use by companies — especially those involved in the construction and manufacturing trades — as well as community agencies and businesses and organizations outside Utah. For more information, see here.
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