May 2003

¿Habla Español? | Safe Solutions

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¿Habla Español?

by Peter Greenbaum
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For Merit Roofing, spring was busy. Jerry, Merit Roofing's owner, was pleased he had enough work to rotate his crews between day and night shifts. But he realized his company's increasing success would require him to hire more workers.

As a result, Jerry hired more roofing workers who spoke Spanish as a first language. Eventually, each roofing crew included several workers who barely could speak or understand English. When possible, a foreman would include a Spanish-speaking worker on each crew who could understand English well enough to interpret instructions.

One afternoon, before a night roofing job, Mike, a Merit Roofing foreman, met with his crew in the company's yard to talk about potential safety hazards. Because several crew members spoke Spanish as a first language, one worker interpreted Mike's instructions.

Mike explained the risk of falling off a roof and tripping over obstacles increases because of decreased visibility at night. Mike also said adequate lighting for roof access areas, paths of travel, and around a kettle or tanker is critical and should be set up...

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