Online Program

Audits by Latino safety liaisons in New Jersey describe frequent hazards at construction work sites

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 5:18 p.m. - 5:34 p.m.

Elizabeth G. Marshall, PhD, Epidemiology, UMDNJ-School of Public Health, Piscataway, NJ
Renzo Florez, BS, Epidemiology, Rutgers School of Public Health, Piscataway, NJ
Background. Day laborers working residential and small-scale construction commonly face unsafe conditions, but few interventions have documented and changed specific practices and equipment. Collaborating with the New Labor worker center in New Jersey, Latino construction workers have been trained as “safety liaisons” to recognize and respond to hazardous working conditions. Methods. A model safety audit checklist was developed for safety liaisons to observe, evaluate, and document the presence or absence of 46 safety features, filling out a pocket-sized form. The features, mostly OSHA requirements, included aspects of personal protective equipment, ladders, scaffolds, fall protection, machine hazards, lead paint, and electrical hazards. Results. Over two years, 18 trained safety liaisons completed 171 audits at their own work sites and from the sidewalk at other sites. The initial audit at their own work sites commonly showed low compliance with prescribed safety practices. For example, 50% of work sites had hard hats provided, 40% provided hearing protection, 47% of scaffolds had fall protection, and 42% of sites used appropriate methods for cutting stone. Ladders were safer, with 6 out of 8 safety features present at more than 70% of sites. Some aspects, such as specific electrical equipment, were difficult for liaisons to observe. Audits completed from the sidewalk showed lower rates of safe practices than the liaisons' own jobs. Conclusion. Although the accuracy and completeness of safety audits are limited, observations by trained laborers echo conditions reported by other sources. Safety audit results confirm the importance of improving safety practices in residential construction.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify possible fall prevention, protective equipment, and procedures to ensure safety at construction sites Describe role of peer safety liaisons in collecting data on construction hazards

Keyword(s): Construction Injuries, Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the co-principal investigator of the safety liaison project that generated the data presented. I am experienced in occupational safety and health surveillance.
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.