Labor Grant Helps UTEP Civil Engineers Provide Safety Training for Spanish-Speaking Construction Workers
UC STAFF | November 08, 2017 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
Adeeba Raheem, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Austin Marshall, J.D., clinical professor in the department
Keeping non-English speaking construction workers in the Borderplex safe is the goal of a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor awarded to a team of UTEP engineers.
Adeeba Raheem, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Austin Marshall, J.D., clinical professor in the department, will use the $155,000 prestigious Susan Harwood targeted training grant to prepare residential and commercial construction workers for excavation hazard prevention.
"Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations," said Raheem, who added the fatality rate for excavation work is 112 percent higher than the rate for general construction. "In El Paso, the majority of construction workers are Hispanic and most of them have limited literacy skills. These workers, in many cases, have never been trained or the training may have been of limited value due to language barriers. Our free training will prepare the workers to identify excavation hazards and understand the OSHA regulations to avoid injuries during excavation work."
This is the fourth consecutive year that UTEP has earned this grant. With this support, the UTEP team has trained more than 4,000 construction workers on various safety-related topics. More than 600 companies have participated, most of them small businesses with limited resources for safety training.
More than 30 UTEP students have been trained as instructors so far and many more will be involved as a result of this year's new funding.
Raheem said this use of the grant prepares students to be future safety professionals and benefits local contractors through increased awareness of jobsite hazards and prevention methods.
"Professional development is extremely important for students because it introduces them to the culture and practice of their profession," Raheem said.
This contract has provided UTEP students with opportunities for hands-on training at different construction sites. In some cases these assignments have led to employment, Marshall said.
Student participants have gone into the field and met with owners, workers, supervisors and project managers. The result for those trained has been improved professional skills and increased self-confidence and field and safety knowledge.