Blood, Sweat, and Fears on the Job

June 17, 2019

On May 20, MassCOSH’s Worker Center Director Milagros Barreto flew to Cincinnati to take part in a five-day training on infectious material hazards at the workplace. The 40-hour training was specially designed to train those leading worker centers across the country on effective methods to communicate essential safety information to Spanish-only speakers. It also covered how to train these individuals to educate others on how to stay safe on the job.

Immigrant and Spanish speaking workers are often hired to tackle dirty and dangerous jobs such as post-storm cleanup. They are also more likely to be given little to no safety training on how to stay safe on the job. Thanks in part to a grant from the National Institute from Environmental Health Sciences and the International Chemical Workers Union Council, COSH worker centers from coast to coast were given the opportunity to learn more about the infectious material exposures immigrant workers are likely to face on the job and how to train those who will themselves then train small groups of workers in their home communities who are often exposed to pathogens and chemicals on the job.

Before this training, MassCOSH focused on infectious material hazards workers hired to clean up after floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters that damage homes and buildings would likely encounter. MassCOSH will now be able to expand the trainings it can offer to home health aides, laundry workers, maids, and restaurant workers, individuals rarely educated on what to do when they are exposed to blood, bodily fluids, and harsh cleaning chemicals on the job, including what personal protective equipment should be made available to them by their employers.