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An examination of the occupational risks, occupational safety and health communication needs of Spanish speaking children who are employed or live on farms.

Safety is seguridad: a workshop summary - communicating occupational safety and health information to Spanish speaking workers, May 29-30, 2002, San Diego, California. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2003 Jan; :113-128
Spanish speaking children are an emergent occupational group composed of several sectors with distinctive occupational health and safety risks. Working children of Hispanic farmers traveling with migrant farmworkers parents are increasing in number in the agricultural industry and are being considerably augmented by a rising number of nomadic adolescent farmworkers searching for agricultural work. All of those Spanish speaking children working in agriculture by definition share a common language. They face a range of common, occupational risks, but have unique backgrounds and diverse goals. All children working or living at farms have potential occupational risks for injury and diseases because of exposure to agricultural hazards. As health outcomes for those children depend on agricultural workplace safety, their living and working environments can support or deny a proper children's response to occupational risks. Communication of occupational risks to agricultural employers, parents and Spanish speaking children, needs concentrated efforts to convey culturally appropriate messages to meet the needs of each different target group.21 Adequate risk communications engage a tripartite reciprocal interaction between the sender (health and safety professional), receiver (employer, parent, and child) and the medium.21 The ultimate goal of each message is the adoption of health and safety behaviors to prevent adverse effects and promote the children's well-being. Adequate resources need to be evaluated in the art of getting information across to these distinctive populations at risk, incorporating their needs, experiences, culture and discovering the best means to deliver each message effectively. Health and safety resources have been developed to protect children in agricultural settings keeping in mind the traditional family farm.30-31 Occupational health risks interventions for Spanish speaking children need to begin with multiparty translations, successful adaptations of scientific and practical concepts and retargeting of suitable resources for this new workforce. All efforts require thorough evaluation in culturally appropriate Spanish language, adjusting to the diverse needs of the various groups of Spanish speaking children and their different environments. Children living in a Hispanic/Latino farms face and perceive their occupational risks differently to hired adolescent farmworkers recently arrived from Mexico or Central America. Parallel yet unique environments face children working along with their migrant farmworker parents modifying their hazardous exposures and occupational risks, depending upon daycare availability and/or working opportunities to contribute to their family income. The child's experiences stimulate responses from health and safety professionals, challenging the power of scientific explanations of occupational risks in the interest of minimizing children's occupational risks and increasing control of the community's health. For health and safety promotion to succeed in this new multicultural and multilingual agricultural industry, the art and science of collaborations in communicating health risks must be transformed to support the well-being of children in agriculture.
Families; Farmers; Children; Racial-factors; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-workers; Age-factors; Occupational-hazards; Risk-factors
Martha Soledad Vela-Acosta, Associate Professor, University of Texas, School of Public Health, Health Science Center, RAHC Building, 1220D, 80 Fort Brown, Brownsville, TX 78520
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Funding Type
Interagency Agreement
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Safety is seguridad: a workshop summary - communicating occupational safety and health information to Spanish speaking workers, May 29-30, 2002, San Diego, California
Performing Organization
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division