AIHA offers first-of-its-kind Spanish workshop

Occ-health professionals see progress

An eight-hour course on leadership will be presented in Spanish at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, sponsored by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).

The workshop, "Leading Leaders: The Real Role of the EH&S Professional" is a significant development for Hispanic environmental health and safety professionals, says Antonio Attias, MS, the occupational health corporate coordinator of Petrolera Ameriven, a joint venture of Conoco-Phillips, Chevron-Texaco, and PDVSA in Venezuela.

Attias notes it is the only one among more than 70 courses at the conference, being held May 8-13 in Atlanta, that will be given in Spanish and, at least in the last five years, is the only one given in a language other than English.

"A good percentage of the attendees are coming from Hispanic countries; these attendees would rather have a course in their native language in order to get all the information they need in the easiest way," he notes. "This is an achievement for the Hispanic environmental, health, and safety community."

A growing need

Attias says there is a growing need for more courses like these. "There are two main reasons," he says. "First, there is the Hispanic work force, which is growing in the U.S., and the increasing attendance of Hispanic professionals from the U.S. and from foreign countries at these conferences and congresses."

In addition, he notes, the Hispanic work force has a different way of seeing and feeling the relationship with their own co-workers, their bosses, their families, and their environment. "This means that you need to understand this cultural issue before attempting any environmental health and safety approach to help them in their daily activities and prepare them to minimize the injuries in the workplace," he explains. "In my opinion, having worked for more than 20 years with Hispanic workers, the increasing rate of injuries among them is due to the cultural barrier, and not only to the language barrier, as some experts believe."

This will only increase the need for more Hispanic professionals, he says. "Hispanic professionals will be more and more in demand because we will need professionals who understand which cultural issues need to be studied or treated in all cases related to occupational and environmental health. The culture is the key factor here, and Hispanic professionals will understand the Hispanic workers more easily and will be able to help them to work in any program they need to improve their health."

The AIHA web page is www.aiha.org. The course is: PDC-111, NEW — Leading Leaders: The Real Role of the EH&S Professional (Spanish), Saturday, May 8, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. A course description is located at www.aiha.org/aihce04/pdcsbytopic.htm.

[For more information, contact Antonio Attias at aattias@ameriven.com.]