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Assessing the Safety Training Needs of Spanish-Speaking Workers in the Southeastern Logging Industry

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Safety in logging operations in the southeastern United States has long been an important issue. Recently, a growing number of Spanish-speaking workers (SSW) have gained employment on logging operations in the region. There is concern that injury and fatality rates could increase due to inexperience, possible lack of proper safety training, and language-barrier problems attributed to SSW. The objectives of this study are to, (1) determine the current percentage of the logging workforce in the southeastern United States comprised of SSW, (2) document the current state of logging safety training as it relates to SSW, and (3) recommend strategies to address the short- and long-term logging safety training needs of SSW. Data regarding the current population of SSW were collected in 2005 through field surveys of 1,890 logging crews operating in the southeastern United States. Additional data were acquired through field interview questionnaires completed in the fall of 2005 with 41 sample logging contractors who employ SSW. As of 2005, SSW represented 3.37% of the logging industry workforce in the southeastern United States. Ten percent of the operations surveyed employed one or more SSW. Of the questionnaire respondents, 90% employed at least one SSW who understood English well enough to effectively interpret instructions to the other SSW. Seventy-three percent of the loggers interviewed believed that “hands-on” demonstration training was the most effective way to present safety training to SSW. A majority of the respondent loggers believed that simply distributing safety training manuals and brochures printed in Spanish was unlikely to be effective, because only about one-half of the SSW they employed were literate. Recommendations were developed, based on the relevant literature and data collected through the questionnaire, to address the safety concerns associated with SSW in the logging industry.

Keywords: Spanish-speaking workers; logging; safety

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-08-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Southern Journal of Applied Forestry covers an area from Virginia and Kentucky south to as far west as Oklahoma and east Texas.
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