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NY1 Exclusive: OSHA Begins Worker Safety Outreach At Sandy Sites

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking to make sure workers are safe as construction projects resulting from Hurricane Sandy get under way.

OSHA representatives began Tuesday talking with day laborers about construction safety and raising awareness of their workplace rights.

Some of the issues being raised include the hazards of mold clean-up, safe work environments, and safe clean up procedures.

OSHA says a big part of the push is to make sure workers are not afraid to speak up about issues they face on a job site.

"Our main task here is to speak to the workers to let them know that they have rights in the work place, to let them know they have the right to be safe, they have the right to complain and as you said a lot of these day laborers are afraid to complain. They get paid in cash and when they go home at night they are able to go home safely at night," said OSHA Compliance Officer Bob Stewart.

Understanding many day laborers are immigrants, sometimes undocumented, compliance officers try not to frighten the workers away while handing out information in Spanish and English.

"Once you start speaking to them in Spanish they feel more familiar. They feel, 'Okay I can trust you. You are Latin, I feel like there are some kind of connections.' So they approach you, when you approach them they will cooperate with you. Not all the time," said OSHA Compliance Officer Ray Cross.

Workers do have complaints about unsafe conditions and say they've been the victims of scams. One worker who spoke with NY1 said he actually took an OHSA safety course, but questions the certificate he received.

"What happens is that I was given this license and someone told me that is fake. Then I need the correct information," said the worker through an interpreter.

"Apparently there are some schools at there or people out there faking the certificates, issuing fake certificates. That was his concern. So We took his information, we are going to research his card," Cross said.

Workers who would like more information are encouraged to go online to osha.gov for more information.

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