Undercurrent

OSHA teams with Mexican Consulate to prevent labor abuses in NV construction

By: - August 31, 2021 4:21 pm

Groups representing undocumented workers have long warned employers are taking advantage of people’s status to prevent them from obtaining better and safer working conditions. (Image by Hands off my tags! Michael Gaida from Pixabay)

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday it’s partnering with the Consulate General of Mexico in Las Vegas to protect Mexican nationals working in the Nevada construction industry from health and safety abuses.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) representatives and members of the consulate are planning to provide Spanish-language training resources about whistleblower protections along with information on safety-related topics including heat illness, exposure to hazardous chemicals and electrocution. 

They are expected to meet at least three times per year to track progress of the alliance. 

“OSHA and the Consulate General of Mexico established this alliance to address hazards that cause injuries and fatalities among a large population of the construction workforce,” said OSHA Area Office Director Eric Brooks in Las Vegas in a statement. “This alliance signals a commitment to making safety a priority in the lives of Mexican nationals working in Nevada’s construction industry.”

Data from the Department of Labor shows in 2019 there were 40 fatal workplace injuries in Nevada, seven specifically within the private construction industry.

Groups representing undocumented workers have long warned employers are taking advantage of people’s status to prevent them from obtaining better and safer working conditions. 

During an Aug. 9 visit to Southern Nevada, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh heard several stories of labor abuses and employers taking advantage of immigrant workers, a problem that isn’t unique to the state.

“We shouldn’t be having these types of abuses in the United States,” he said during the event. “We’re going to do everything we can within the Department of Labor to right the wrongs and fix the problems.” 

While Walsh said he would look into the stories to see what actions could be pursued at the federal level, a spokesman with the Labor Department said Julian Esqutia-Rodriguez, the Consul of Mexico in Las Vegas, had previously expressed interest in working with OSHA, as well as the department’s Wage and Hour Division, for some time. 

The alliance is in effect for two years. 

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.

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