184634 When Indigenous Communities Lead from Within: Opportunities for Greater Improvement in Health and Safety for Indigenous Farmworkers

Monday, October 27, 2008: 3:15 PM

Julie Samples, JD , Indigenous Farmworker Project, Oregon Law Center, Woodburn, OR
A significant number of Oregon's farmworkers in labor intensive crops speak one of the indigenous languages of Mexico (and not Spanish) as their primary language. Many of these languages are no longer written in commonly understood ways. Partners in Promotoing Occupational Safety and Health of Indigenous Farmworkers, recognize that language and cultural gaps are only two of the factors contributing to health and safety disparities. Equally important are the gaps in state and federal laws, including trainings that are inadequate or at times irrelevant to the reality of the lives of indigenous farmworkers. For example, when a trainer says shower promptly after returning home from work to minimize pesticide exposure to your family, the workers remind us that there are not enough showers or hot water at the labor camps. Similarly washing work clothes in a washing machine is unrealistic for many workers with no access to a washing machine. These barriers can lead to feelings of isolation and disrespect. The project partners have used a multitude of approaches that center on creating opportunities for leadership for indigenous farmworkers in bringing tangible change to the communities. Among the most successful is a promotores program in which the project's indigenous partners mentor other indigenous farmworkers as promotores. The promotores teamed with the partnership to raise the awareness of the state and federal regulators on occupational health and safety issues of indigenous farmworkers in one-on-one meetings and in a variety of public forums.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the multi-track method in which indigenous community members have begun to bring about tangible change within the community. 2. Describe methods used to increase the base knowledge of workers about health and safety through routes that were identified by communities as the most effective. 3. Discuss how this multiple track approach has incorporated the thoughts, concerns and presence of indigenous farmworkers within the project, thereby reducing feelings of isolation and disrespect.

Keywords: Occupational Safety, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: JD
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.