English Illiteracy in the Work Place and the Need for Safety Training

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“By 2050, immigration is expected to increase the U.S. population by 80 million people.” (Wexley-Latham 325) Do illegal aliens working within United States borders have OSHAct rights for a safe and healthy work place? Is an organization responsible for the training necessary to insure a safe and health work environment? With the large influx of legal and illegal aliens working within our country how will illiteracy and functional illiteracy affect a healthy and safe work environment? A quality training and development program with in any organization should include a health and safety training program. In our global economy this must include health and safety training for those employees who are illiterate or functionally illiterate in the English language. “The cost of work related injuries and fatalities is estimated to be greater than $121 billion annually; from 1980 to 1992, more than 77,000 workers died as a result of work related injuries…” (Wexley- Latham 329) In light of these statistics an organization can not be without a quality health and safety training program. The liability for an organization with out an OSHA approved training program could be astronomical. According to the American Society for Training and Development nine percent of training expenditures are used to support health and safety training. “The occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was designed to set forth a standard that would provide for the safety and health of employees while on the job. Employers are required to provide a place of employment free from occupational hazards. Employees are required to follow rules and regulations established to promote their safety and to use equipment designed to ensure their safety.” (Moran 430) Does an illegal alien qualify as an employee? First one must look at the legal definition; “…Employment may be defined as the rendering of personal service by one person on behalf of another in return for compensation.” (Moran 4) The department of labor within the OSHAct defines an employee as “[a person] who is employed in a business of his employer which affects commerce.” (OSHA 29 USC 654) Are employers bound by contract to provide a healthy and safe work environment to all employees? An employment contract is defined as “… a legally enforceable agreement [containing] a mutual agreement, executed in proper form, voluntarily made by two or more capable parties wherein each party promises to perform or not to perform a specific legal act for valuable consideration.” (Moran 11) Under these definitions one would have to assume that an illegal alien is considered an employee regardless of his or her immigration status. Stan Redding the director for Base safety at the Naval Air Station Pensacola was asked if the OSHAct applied to illegal aliens. He replied “ That he believed that it did apply to them but was unsure if it could be documented in writing.” The courts are still trying to figure out the legalities of the various situations brought to trial. For example the New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that “…Illegal aliens injured on the job are entitled to sue for lost wages and earnings -- at U.S. wage levels -- in some circumstances, but their employers can use their illegal status as a defense.” (Cable 1) In this ruling the Supreme Court of New Hampshire commented further on the issue. “An illegal alien injured on the job may receive lost wages/earnings at U.S. levels if that illegal alien can prove that his employer was aware or should have been aware of his illegal status but hired him -- or continued to employ him -- nonetheless.” (Cable 1) “Although the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 punishes an illegal alien who submits fraudulent documents, that illegal alien still can recover damages unless the person who hired him reasonably relied upon those documents." (Cable 1) Andrew P. Nitkewicz a partner at Avelino & Associates, P.C. in Manhattan states, “ As a...
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