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Advocates for Greater Safety in the Latino Workforce Launch Campaign to Prevent Workplace Falls

Posted in on Fri, May 3, 2013

As May marks the Building Safety Month…

Advocates for Greater Safety in the Latino Workforce Launch Campaign to Prevent Workplace Falls

National Fall Prevention Campaign seeks to create awareness of safety related work practices that prevent falls in the workplace with a focus on the Spanish-speaking worker

May 1, 2013 – Safety Professionals and the Latino Workforce (SPALW), a common interest group of the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) has announced the launch of “SPALW Against Falls” a national campaign to raise awareness among employers and Spanish-speaking workers about the hazards of falls and the importance of fall prevention in the workplace.

The campaign urges employers, associations, civic entities, and community organizations that work with the Spanish-speaking Latino workforce to participate in fall prevention awareness training throughout May 2013, which is also Building Safety Month(BSM). During this time, ASSE will provide information and educational materials in English and Spanish directed to the Spanish-speaking Latino worker.

Statistics show that workers in high-risk industries, particularly construction are among the most vulnerable to occupational fatalities and injuries. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2010, more than 10,000 construction workers were injured as a result of falling while working from heights, and another 255 workers were killed. Latinos are even more likely to die from a fall, trip, or slip (30% of Latino fatalities).

“SPALW Against FALLS” aims to reduce the high incidence of injuries and deaths among the Latino workforce due to falls in the workplace. Because of language barriers, literacy and other limitations, these workers are often hard to reach through traditional communication methods” said Mark Hernandez, Vice-Chair of SPALW. “That is why it is so critical to effectively train them.”

Fabian Ruiz is an example of the importance of adequate training. Ten years ago Ruiz, an immigrant from Mexico, who did not speak English, was working at a height of ten feet for his job on a construction site, when stepped on a rotten wood panel. As soon as he took that step, the panel immediately broke, sending him plunging towards the ground.
Fortunately, Ruiz’ employer had provided him with occupational safety training in Spanish, which included instruction on how to properly use fall protection equipment.
“If I didn’t have the right protection equipment, I would have died,” explained Ruiz, who now speaks fluent English, and is employed as a construction superintendent, where he is responsible for the safety of 50 employees. He also provides training in both English and Spanish on occupational safety, including fall protection.
“SPAWL Against FALLS” encourages participants to commit to perform a fall prevention awareness training in any of the following formats:
- 1 hour Safety meeting
- 15 minute Tailgate meeting
- 1 hour awareness training
- Stand Down Employee campaign
SPAWL’s goal is to reach out to 100,000 Spanish-speaking workers throughout the United States by May 31, 2013 with Fall Prevention Awareness training, materials and information.

The “SPAWL Against FALLS” campaign precedes ASSE’s Professional Development Conference in June where the International Society for Fall Prevention will held a symposium that brings together world-renowned experts in the field of fall protection. The symposium provides a platform for attendees to discuss and learn about the most current tools and methods for controlling and eliminating fall hazards. The symposium ties to the importance of addressing this issue and underscores the need to effectively reach out to those at risk while providing the latest resources and information available in the field.


Open to all ASSE members, SPALW was established to provide a supportive environment for safety directors, managers, supervisors, consultants, and others who have a common interest in the Latino workforce to discuss, research, develop and implement new suggestions, ideas, recommendations and strategies related to this issue. For more information about SPALW, visit

Founded in 1911, the Chicago-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 35,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education. For more information please go to

Contact: Catherine Salgado, (847)768-3472,

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