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What Is the Hispanic Outreach Working Group?

Jan 29, 2018

On Dec. 15, 2017, the Society's Board of Directors convened a Hispanic outreach working group in an effort to not only more effectively and strategically engage Hispanic safety professionals, but also improve workplace safety and health for Hispanic/Latino workers, a group disproportionately represented in the recent BLS report on fatal occupational injuries. The group consisted of 11 Hispanic members, both American-born and immigrants, who work for a diverse set of organizations in the public and private sectors. Participants represented a variety of perspectives key to advancing the organization's efforts to recruit and develop Hispanic/Latino members and increase their visibility within the OSH profession. President-Elect Rixio Medina facilitated the conversation. The meeting was the Society's first step in developing an effective Hispanic outreach effort.

“We all individually proposed different goals based on our experiences and perspectives,” says Luz Marin, Sc.D., assistant professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “Then, through a very interesting and respectful group exercise, those goals were discussed and prioritized to come up with the final four.”

The four aims are to:

1.     Bring more Hispanics into the OSH profession;

2.     Assist the professional/leadership development of Hispanic OSH professionals;

3.     Attract more Hispanic OSH professionals to the Society;

4.     Assist in improving safety and health for Hispanic/Latino workers.

By highlighting and agreeing to address these four concerns relevant to Hispanic safety and health professionals, the group united behind a set of shared ideas that will guide their work moving forward. A large part of the group’s process involved evaluating the current landscape to find issues requiring immediate improvement.

“It was important to consider and understand the data regarding Hispanics in the United States, Hispanics in the education process and what the Society has done to support Hispanic/Latino workers’ safety and health,” says Medina, CSP, CPP. According to Medina, the four goals put forward on Dec. 15 will also likely be the framework for several events in 2018, including an anticipated second quarter workshop inviting leading Hispanic/Latino safety organizations to help develop an interorganizational strategy for reducing worker fatalities.

The group successfully drafted recommendations to guide the Society in achieving the four identified goals. Everyone agreed that to be successful, the group’s strategies need to align with the Society's existing core competencies, including professional development, membership, standards development and advocacy. Specific action items included everything from recommendations to refocus the charge of the Society’s Safety Professionals and the Latino Workforce Common Interest Group (including a recommendation to change its name to “Hispanic Safety Professionals”) to initiating outreach efforts that connect Hispanic OSH professionals, university programs and college students deciding on careers. To promote Hispanic safety leadership, the group will organize around efforts such as helping Hispanic OSH professionals earn certifications, find mentors and learn critical communication and negotiating skills. 

“Being involved in this process has definitely made me feel like I have a voice in the future of our Society,” says Jose Perez, CSHM, CET, senior manager of EHS at The Wonderful Company. “The opportunity to contribute and serve aligns with my core values, which is of primary importance to me as I give my time and energy for a cause.”

The idea of a Hispanic outreach initiative has been enhanced and has a better possibility of success with the participation of the members engaged in this group, according to Medina.

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