Interviewing Spanish-Speaking

Spanish speaking videos

Prottejase1Recently, NIOSH released a series of multi-media communication products for organizations that serve Spanish-speaking immigrant workers entitled Protéjase en el trabajo (Protect yourself at work). This series of products is a result of a multi-faceted project that includes 1) a partnership between NIOSH and the Mexican Consulates in the U.S. and 2) the development of illustrated materials for workers created through community outreach, engagement and input. The series includes 4 booklets/brochures, 2 posters, and 5 testimonial videos. The purpose of these materials is to provide evidence-based information to raise awareness about potential occupational safety and health issues and encourage workers to seek assistance for work-related questions or concerns. These new products are not meant to take the place of existing training and educational materials or intended to replace industry guidance and training, but instead serve as another venue to provide education and knowledge to these workers.

Because Spanish-speaking immigrant workers may be unfamiliar with U.S. labor, health, legal or other systems, community-based organizations that have existing relationships with these workers are often a more comfortable, trusted and empowering entry point for their questions and concerns. With this in mind, the Protéjase project team developed these occupational safety and health materials with the three following goals:

  • to help immigrant-serving organizations raise awareness among their clients about occupational safety and health and how to advocate for themselves,
  • provide occupational safety and health organizations with outreach tools specific to Spanish-speaking worker populations, and
  • foster partnerships and awareness that will bring organizations which provide high-quality services in both of these areas together.

Print Materials

The print materials present a family of workers: María, a hotel housekeeper; her husband Carlos, a residential construction worker; her mother Silvia, who works at the deli counter of the local food store; and her father Javier, who works in agriculture. The stage is set in the booklet “Safety and Health At Work, ” which provides an overview of occupational safety and health concepts, some basic worker rights, and suggestions for types of organizations that can help workers with safety and health questions and concerns. The story is continued in “Prevention Strategies, ” which uses Silvia’s workplace at the local food store to highlight basic worker rights as well as present examples of the kinds of actions workers can take to identify and mitigate risks they encounter on the job. Another booklet features Carlos’ workplace to introduce a few common hazards on residential construction sites and a fourth covers aspects of Maria’s workplace, highlighting some best practices for safety and health when cleaning hotel rooms. All of these materials also provide strategies for recognizing and mitigating the hazards and improving workplace safety and health for those occupations.

In addition to the booklets there are two posters which show María and Carlos at work. The posters are meant to encourage viewers to ask for help with any occupational safety and health questions they might have from their own experiences. They are designed to be hung by worker-centered or other community organizations that can help with occupational safety and health issues to help raise awareness of their services and reach Spanish-speaking immigrant workers.

protejase2All of the print materials use illustrations to enhance their occupational safety and health message and call to action. The role of art in reinforcing public health messages and the testing that was done to develop the illustrations and text for these materials will be described in the second and third installments of this blog series about Protéjase.


The testimonial videos each tell a worker’s real life story. There are five videos featuring either the workers themselves or an actor retelling a personal story of an injury at work, what they did about the injury, how it has affected their life, and advice for other workers. The videos are meant to be used with the print materials as awareness-raising tools that motivate workers to seek help. The stories cover five different issues: residential construction roofing; sexual harassment; struck-by injury in a warehouse; burn in a meat processing plant; and a musculoskeletal injury from lifting heavy boxes in a fast food restaurant. Much like the print materials, the videos were developed through partnership with immigrant-serving organizations and were tested with the intended audience.

How to Use These Materials

These materials are designed to be shared with lower-wage Spanish-speaking immigrant workers in the United States. While there are some materials specific to construction and hotel housekeeping, overall the Protéjase series is intended to be applicable to almost any industry in the U.S. We encourage you to use the materials for any Hispanic Heritage Month events you have planned, and to continue using them in the future to help Spanish-speaking immigrant workers learn about their rights at work, understand that there may be hazards in their workplaces, and find out where to get help to prevent or eliminate the risks. Please tell us in the comments section below what you think about these materials and how you plan to use them!

Pietra Check, MPH, is Deputy Director of the NIOSH Office of Agriculture Safety and Health and Coordinator of the Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing Program.

Michael Flynn, MA, is a Social Scientist in the NIOSH Education and Information Division and Assistant Coordinator of the Priority Populations and Health Disparities Program.

Amy Filko, BA, is a Visual Information Specialist in the NIOSH World Trade Center Heath Program.

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