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In The Field: Occupational Health in Calexico with Ventanilla de Salud of the Mexican Consulate

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Attendees of training in El Centro, CA


As part of “Filling the Gap in Worker Training: Capacity Building for Occupational Safety and Health,” supported by the Susan Harwood Capacity Building Program of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, I traveled across the country to assist with a monitoring visit to the Ventanilla de Salud in Calexico, CA, where partners Adriana Buelna and Marlet Vizcarra both work as community health workers. In this stage of the project, I am working to provide technical assistance to the Ventanilla de Salud in order to help them strengthen their capacity and reach workers with safety and health training.


Chemical Safety Presentation in El Centro, CA

[Marlet Vizcarra presents chemical safety information to workers in the home care industry.]

The first training was facilitated by Marlet in the Public Health office of Imperial County, located en El Centro, CA. Marlet presented chemical safety information to a group of workers from the United Domestic Workers of America, a worker’s union organized to promote the rights of workers in the home care industry.

There was great audience participation throughout the course of the workshop; workers responded to each and every one of the questions that Marlet presented, making for a truly interactive training experience.


Ergonomics Presentation in El Centro, CA

[Adriana Buelna presents on ergonomics and injury prevention.]

A training attendee looking over educational materials

[A training attendee looks over MCN's ¡Cuidate! comic book.]

The second training was lead by Adriana Buelna, who spoke with poise and professionalism on the science of ergonomics and injury prevention.  This topic was of particular interest to this audience, as many of them work as personal caretakers for elderly adults or individuals with disabilities, an occupation that includes working in awkward postures and heavy lifting, which often results in musculoskeletal injury.  This workshop was facilitated with the help of MCN’s comic book, ¡Cuidate!, a patient education resource aimed at preventing musculoskeletal injuries among workers.


Alma Galvan at Safety Harvesting

[ Alma Galván visits with Marielena Garibaldi of Safety Harvesting and Adriana Buelna.]

During my trip, I also had the opportunity to visit Marielena Garibaldi, the director of Safety Harvesting, a company that contracts farmworkers to work with larger farm corporations. Marielena explained her experience growing up in a family of farmworkers, and how the love and respect she received from this community drove her to initiate her company five years ago.  She went into detail about the various challenges she faces, particularly with the extreme heat typically found in the Imperial Valley region of California. Each and every one of the workers who has suffered injury on the job has his or her own personal story that motivates Garibaldi to do her part in improving the working conditions of farmworkers.  Through the Ventanilla de Salud in Calexico, CA, Adriana Buelna has built a successful partnership with Mrs. Garibaldi so that year by year, agricultural workers can be trained on health, safety, and workers’ rights and responsibilities.  This particular year, with the help of MCN and the Susan Harwood program, the Ventanilla de Salud has expanded and developed their outreach to further serve the worker population with information about chemical safety, injury prevention, heat-related illness, and workers’ right and responsibilities.

In the wake of this successful monitoring visit, I am very pleased with our partners' progress.  It was impactful and energizing to be in the fields and witness the impact of our trainings on the working population.



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