Private firm trains Hispanic construction workers in safety

Victoria Chacon of Gwinett County, Ga., recently started the Hispanic Safety Training Agency, a for-profit business that educates Spanish-speaking construction workers in the Atlanta area.

Chacon, who owns a firm that cleans up construction sites, had attended construction safety seminars and noticed the construction workers who work on sites were rarely present. She started the training agency to help Hispanic workers avoid construction-related deaths and accidents.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, although Hispanics constitute only 10.7 percent of the workforce in the United States, they represent 13.8 percent of on-the-job fatalities. This rate is even higher in construction. In Georgia, Hispanics accounted for 41 percent of construction-related deaths in 2000.

The safety course, which started last week, was drafted with the help of Georgia Tech’s OSHA Training Institute and Education Center. About 20 men paid $95 to attend the two-day, 10-hour seminar, which was hosted by Chacon’s agency, the Georgia Tech training center and the Mexican-American Business Chamber in Norcross, Ga.

“I want to go across the whole state of Georgia doing this,” Chacon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That may be ambitious, but I want to see other entities adopt this course, being that it is in Spanish.”