Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Hearing Reveals the Dark Side of the American Dream. (OSHA)

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Hearing Reveals the Dark Side of the American Dream. (OSHA)

Article excerpt

A Senate hearing devoted to how cultural and language problems can hurt workplace safety for immigrants ended as it began, with two speakers saying precisely the same words:

"Immigrants have a disproportionate rate of accidents and fatalities in the workplace," the speakers said. "We are considered disposable and, therefore, easy to exploit."

Omar Henriquez, coordinator of immigrant and youth programs for the New York Committee for Occupational Health and Safety (NYCOSH), penned the words for his testimony as a witness at the Feb. 27 hearing.

Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., who chaired the hearing, found the testimony, particularly the word "disposable," so compelling he used it in his opening statement.

Henriquez supported his statement with Bureau of Labor Statistics data as well as his personal experience of the hazards faced by workers cleaning up dust and debris, which may contain asbestos, in buildings adjacent to the World Trade Center.

"We are treated like garbage," former garment industry worker You Di Liao said through an interpreter. …

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