Title page for ETD etd-04192006-124550

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author O'Neal, Brandon Scott
URN etd-04192006-124550
Title Safety Training for Spanish-Speaking Workers in the Logging Industry in the Southeastern United States
Degree Master of Science
Department Forestry
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Shaffer, Robert M. Jr. Committee Chair
Mortimer, Michael J. Committee Member
Visser, J. M. Rien Committee Member
  • Safety Training
  • Logging
  • Spanish-speaking worker
  • Hispanic
Date of Defense 2006-03-29
Availability restricted
Safety in logging operations in the Southeastern United States has long been an issue of concern. Recently, a growing number of Spanish-speaking workers have become employed in logging operations in the Southeastern U.S. There is a growing concern that injury and fatality rates could increase due to inexperience, possible lack of proper safety training, and language barrier problems attributed to the new Spanish-speaking workers. The study area is the Southeastern U.S., comprising twelve states ranging from Texas to Virginia. The goal of this study is to determine the current percentage of Spanish-speaking workers in the study area, assess the previous and present safety training received by Spanish-speaking workers, and provide recommendations addressing the short and long-term logging safety training needs of Spanish-speaking workers. Data was collected through a combination of field surveys and questionnaires. The surveys collected data from 1890 logging operations in the study area, and was used to determine the population of Spanish-speaking workers in the logging industry. The questionnaires were completed during the summer of 2005 by 41 selected sample loggers who employ Spanish-speaking workers, in which they addressed the previous and present safety training received by Spanish-speaking workers, in addition to other information pertaining to safety. The percentage of Spanish-speaking workers in the logging industry in the Southeastern U.S. was 3.37%. Ten percent of operations employed one or more Spanish-speaking workers. Relevant literature as well as data collected through this study suggests that Spanish-speaking worker populations will continue to increase. The survey showed Spanish-speaking workers in the logging industry have tended to immigrate to specific regions, Arkansas and North Carolina. Loggers tend to employ one or two Spanish-speaking workers with several non-Spanish-speaking workers rather than forming entire crews of Spanish-speaking workers. Average employment tenure for Spanish-speaking workers was six years. The majority of loggers (90%) who employed Spanish-speaking workers had at least one worker who could translate safety training/instructions to other Spanish-speaking employees. Loggers ranked this method as the most effective way for presenting safety training to Spanish-speaking workers. Based on the survey data, Spanish-speaking workers are not likely to substantially impact logging industry injury statistics in the Southeastern U.S. in the near future, but could in the long term. Recommendations were developed from a combination of survey and questionnaire results and literature reviews. It is recommended that: (1) The use of multiple safety training methods will maximize the Spanish-speaking workers learning ability, (2) The combination of hands-on/demonstration training and the use of a bi-lingual employee/translator seem to be the optimal combination of safety training methods for Spanish-speaking workers, (3) Determine the education/literacy levels of Spanish-speaking employees. It is not appropriate to provide a Spanish-speaking worker with written safety material if they cannot read, (4) Safety training methods used for Spanish-speaking workers may require more “customization” than that of non-Spanish-speaking workers. This is, in part, due to language barriers, questionable literacy, and the fact that in other industries Spanish-speaking workers seem to be more accident prone, (5) It is advisable not to assign inadequately trained and experienced Spanish-speaking workers to tasks such as manual felling, trimming, or bucking with a chainsaw, as this is one of the most hazardous logging tasks. Assigning an experienced employee for a period of at least one week who can oversee the Spanish-speaking worker and correct any unsafe practices would be advisable when assigning a new Spanish-speaking worker to this task, (6) Use universally accepted hand signals around the landing area rather than verbal communication to prevent any miscommunication between Spanish-speaking and non-Spanish-speaking workers, (7) Monitor the Spanish-speaking worker population in the logging workforce closely. Depending on political and economic factors, this population could grow quickly and begin to impact safety/injury rates and (8) Crews comprised entirely of Spanish-speaking workers would likely communicate better. While the limited availability of Spanish-speaking workers in some areas may currently restrict this idea, it may be feasible in the future as more Spanish-speaking workers enter the logging workforce. At this time it may be beneficial for employers to learn Spanish or for Spanish-speaking workers to learn English.
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