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Interaction between Construction Superintendent and Hispanic Workers


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1 INTERACTION BETWEEN CONSTRUCTION SUPERINTENDENT AND HISPANIC WORKERS By ALEXANDER C. CURRY A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE IN BUILDING CONSTRUCTION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007

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2 2007 Alexander C. Curry

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3 To my mother

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to express my gr atitude to my committee memb ers, Dr. Jimmie Hinze, Dr. Robert Stroh, and Dr. Eshter Obonyo for their guidance and support. Dr Hinze provided vision, feedback, editorial suggestions, and assistance with structure. Dr. Robert Stroh provided feedback and guidance on conducting statistical tests. Dr. Esther Obonyo inspired me to write a thesis instead of a report. I would like to thank Eric Anders on and Brittany Johnson for their help in obtaining surveys. I would like to thank Ken Booth for his technical support. I would like to thank my parents for their unconditional love and support. They also brought me into existence, so for that I am for ever grateful. I would also like to thank my girlfriend Amanda and her dog Sam for bringing joy into my life. And, finally, I would like to thank Dottie Beaupied for being the best ad ministrator that I have ever dealt with. This research represents a huge milestone in my academic career, and I could not have reached it without the help of those listed above.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........7 LIST OF FIGURES................................................................................................................ .........8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................11 Integration of Hispanics in the U.S. Economy.......................................................................11 Causes for growth of Hispanic Workfo rce in the U.S. Construction Industry.......................12 Traits of the Hispanic Workforce in the U.S. Construction Industry.....................................12 Purpose and Objectives of Research.......................................................................................13 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................................................................15 Hispanic Workforce and the U.S. Construction Industry.......................................................15 Challenges of Managing a Hispanic Work force in the Construction Industry.......................15 Supervisor-Worker Relationship and its affects on Construction Safety...............................16 Injuries and Fatalities among the Hispanic Workforce in the Construction Industry............17 Background of Hispanic Workers..........................................................................................18 Educational Background.................................................................................................18 Economic and Occupational Background of Hispanic Workers.....................................19 Cultural Background.......................................................................................................20 Relationship between English Proficiency and Inju ry Rates of Hispanic Workforce in the Construction Industry....................................................................................................21 Communication and Productivity...........................................................................................22 3 METHODOLOGY.................................................................................................................25 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........25 Rationale for the Research..................................................................................................... .25 Source of Data................................................................................................................. .......26 Method for Data Collection....................................................................................................27 Data Analysis.................................................................................................................. ........28 4 DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS....................................................................................30 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........30 Size of Company and Projects................................................................................................30 Spanish Language Course Exposure and Its Impact on the Respondents..............................32 General Educational and Professi onal Background of the Respondents................................35 Respondents Experiences and Perspectives on Working with Hispanic Workers................36

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6 Safety Performance on Respondents Projects.......................................................................39 Summary of Results............................................................................................................. ...40 5 CONCLUSIONS....................................................................................................................61 6 RECOMENDATIONS...........................................................................................................63 Recommendations for the Construction Industry...................................................................63 Recommendations for Future Studies.....................................................................................63 APPENDIX A SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE COVER LETTER.................................................................65 B SURVEY FOR SUPERINTENDENTS.................................................................................67 LIST OF REFERENCES............................................................................................................. ..70 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................72

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7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 4-1 Project Relationship between the to tal number of workers and the number of Hispanic workers...............................................................................................................44 4-2 Relationship of taking Spanish as a second language (SSL ) course and annual income volume of company...............................................................................................45 4-3 Relationship between whether or not the respondent had a Spanish as a second language course (SSL) and how important it is to improve their communication skills with Hispanic workers (N=30)..........................................................................................50 4-4 Relationship between Respondents expos ure to Spanish language courses and their interest to take Spanish as a second language course (SSL) focused only on construction................................................................................................................... .....51 4-5 Relationship between whet her or not Superintendent ha d taken a Spanish as a second language course(SSL) and their percepti on of Hispanic workers performance compared to the performance non-Hispanic workers........................................................57 4-6 Relationship between what Language th at Superintendents use when communicating with Hispanic workers and the respondents exposure to Spanish as a second language course (SSL........................................................................................................59

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8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4-1 Annual volume of income..................................................................................................43 4-2 Average number of non-Hispani c and Hispanic workers on projects...............................43 4-3 Estimation of percentage of undoc umented Hispanic workers among Hispanic workers overall on the project............................................................................................44 4-4 Respondents that have or have not had a Spanish class.....................................................45 4-5 Hours of Spanish language inst ruction that respondents had taken...................................46 4-6 Respondents that had a Spanis h language course after high school..................................46 4-7 Respondents that had a Spanish la nguage course related to construction.........................47 4-8 Usefulness of Spanish language courses on the construction site.....................................48 4-9 How well the Spanish language courses met respondents needs and expectations..........48 4-10 Difficulty of Spanish language course that had been taken...............................................49 4-11 Respondents that would or would not take a Spanish class...............................................49 4-12 Rating of the importance of improving communication skills with Hispanic workers (N=30)......................................................................................................................... .......50 4-14 Highest levels of education completed by respondents.....................................................52 4-15 Respondents that worked as a foreman..............................................................................52 4-16 Number of years that each respondent worked as a foreman............................................53 4-17 Number of years that each res pondent has been a supe rintendent (N=30)........................53 4-18 Number of years that each superintendent has supervised Hispanic workers (N=30)......54 4-19 Respondents that have someone on site to help them communicate with Hispanic workers........................................................................................................................ .......54 4-20 Frequency that superintendent used someone to help them communicate with Hispanic workers on their project (N=30).........................................................................55 4-21 Respondents knowledge of Hispanic culture....................................................................56

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9 4-22 Respondents description of the performa nce of Hispanic workers compared to NonHispanic workers...............................................................................................................57 4-23 Respondents description of the sa fety practices of Hispanic workers..............................58 4-26 what respondents consider to be the main problems that relate to Hispanic workers (N=29)......................................................................................................................... .......60 4-27 Respondents opinion on what is the best way to mitigate the language barrier...............60

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10 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Bu ilding Construction INTERACTION BETWEEN CONSTRUCTION SUPERINTENDENT AND HISPANIC WORKERS By Alexander C Curry May 2007 Chair: Jimmie Hinze Cochair: Esther Obonyo Major: Building Construction While it is known that there is a steady growth of Hispanic workers throughout the U.S. construction industry. The reasons that Hispanics have a higher in cidence and fatality rate than any other ethnic group are not known. Ultimately it is the superintendents responsibility to make sure that all workers on s ite are carrying out work in a sa fe and effective manner. This research analyzes the perspectives of non-Hispan ic superintendents to determine if the language and or cultural barrier between non-Hispanic supe rintendent and Hispanic worker is a cause for the high incidence rate of Hispanic workers.

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11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said, If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Co me let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other (Genesis 11:5-11:6). Integration of Hispanics in the U.S. Economy The face of the workforce throughout many of the sectors in the U.S. economy is undergoing a steady integration of immigrant and minority workers that have limited or no English speaking skills. In addition many of these minorities and immigrants have different cultural backgrounds. Both language and cultural differences have proven to be quite challenging for several industries throughout the U.S. In order to address the challenges of a foreign workforce, many industries hire bilingu al workers to communicate with workers that come from various backgrounds. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that one in four persons in the United States will be of Hispanic origin by 2050, up from one in eight in 2002. Using U.S. census survey data, Natalia Siniavksa, an NAHB economist, discovered the following facts Mexicans constitute 54 percent of the immigrant construction workforce, a clear majority. An additional 25 percent come from other countries in the Americas. While only 4 percent of nativ e born Americans work in the construction industry, 10 percent of immigrants from the Americas and 5 percent of European immigrants work in construction. One out of every eight Mexican s currently works in the construction industry. Of the Mexicans who have arrived in this country since 2000, 15 percent work in construction. More than one third of all construction work ers are immigrants in California, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, and the District of Columbia. They account for more than a quarter of the construction workforce in New York, Florida, and New Jersey; and they are stepping up their presence in such stat es as Colorado, Georgia, Il linois and North Carolina.

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12 Thirty two percent of the construction laborer s are foreign-born. Laborers and carpenters account for almost 30 of the overa ll U.S. construction employment. Causes for growth of Hispanic Workfo rce in the U.S. Construction Industry Possible causes for the growth of the Hispan ic population in the U.S. are social and economic instability in numerous Central a nd South American countries, legal migration increases, higher fertility rate s, and higher wages and growing employment opportunities in the U.S. With an increased demand for labor and above average wages, th e construction industry has been attractive to Hispanic immi grants. Another factor that will lead to more Hispanics or at least maintain the current number of Hispanics in the construction industr y is President Bushs proposal to allow undocumented workers to keep their jobs and attain legal status. The implications behind this proposal are profound. Not only could this lead to more Hispanics entering the U.S. construction i ndustry but it also means that th e President believes Hispanic immigrants play a crucial role in mitigating the labor shortages throughout the U.S. economy. Other reasons for Hispanic immigrants entering the U.S. construction industry could be that these jobs are attainable with li ttle or no English proficiency sk ills and minimal or no education. In the United States construction has become th e sector of the workforce with the highest percentage of Hispanic workers outside of agri culture, more than trip ling during the last two decades (Brunette 254). Traits of the Hispanic Workforce in the U.S. Construction Industry Although, the integration of Hispanic immigran ts into the U.S. construction industry may help meet the growing demand for labor in th e construction industry, this is a double edged sword because this transition to an international workforce on could be difficult for U.S. construction companies. A recent study undertak en by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that although the fatal injury rate for non-Hispanic whites and African Americans in the

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13 United States has steadily declined, it has actually increased for the Hispanic workforce in recent years. Fatalities among the Hispanic workforce remain high and they have the highest rate of fatal work injuries among all racial/ethnic groups (Marin 3). The St.Petersburg Times published an article on April 8, 2002, entitled Da ngerous jobs take a toll on Hi spanics. The article reported that Hispanic workers across Florida and across the country are dying on th e job at rates that exceed their proportion of the workforce. Hispanic worker deaths more than doubled in Florida between 1992 and 2000. The toll reached 75 in 2 000, which was 23 percent of worker deaths statewide, although Hispanic workers make up only 18 percent of the workforce (Escobar, 3). In addition, productivity in the fi eld is not only reduced by injuries and fatalities but it is also hindered by the language barrier and the lack of education an d training among the Hispanic workforce in the construction industry. Purpose and Objectives of Research The aim of this research has three objectives the first is to determine the gravity of the problem in regards to managing a Hispanic workfo rce. The second is to test the null hypothesis that a non-Hispanic superinte ndents exposure to Spanish co urses does not influence their perspective on managing Hispanic workers. The th ird is to identify suggestions that will help Non-Hispanic superintendents overcome this co mmunication gap, thus u tilizing the Hispanic workforce in a safe and effective manner. In order for this research to successfully develop helpful suggestions for non-Hispanic supervisors, it is necessary to assess the needs, interests, and perspectives of predominantly Caucasian su perintendents regarding the management of a Hispanic workforce. \While some Caucasian supervisors readily embrace the culture of this foreign workforce and make the effort to under stand them, other Caucasian supervisors do not make this effort. The latter may believe it is the responsibility of the Hispan ic worker to adapt to

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14 the American culture. This is not a matter of wh o should or who should not adapt. The reality is that the construction industry could use the Hi spanic workforce to meet the increasing demand for labor. The suggestions provided by this resear ch will serve as an aide for the non-Hispanic contractor to be proac tive and participate in the integration of the Hispanic culture into the industry.

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15 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Hispanic Workforce and the U.S. Construction Industry With the baby boomer generation on its way out of construction for retirement, a declining number of vocational programs in high school s, and a rapidly growing economy, the U.S. economy is faced with a severe shortage of construction workers. With the supply of workers diminishing and the demand for them increa sing simultaneously, a daunting challenge is presented for construction firms throughout the U. S. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Hispanics account for 22 % of the co nstruction labor force in this c ountry. According to a July 2006 article in the Builder, land development cost s and material prices are spiraling out of control. As result, labor is the only area of the co nstruction equation where builders can apply effective financial controls. One way to accomplish th is is with cheaper labor. From this article, it can be inferred that the influx of immigrants ha s kept labor prices from inflating as much as they normally would. This awareness of a labor s hortage has even reached the White House. In 2006, President Bush announced an immigrati on proposal which would allow undocumented workers to keep their jobs and to attain to lega l status. This proposal could ultimately alleviate the construction industrys labor shortage. While labor prices may have been reduced, managing Hispanic workers may prove to be a great ch allenge for the non-Hispanic supervisor.. Challenges of Managing a Hispanic Wor kforce in the Construction Industry In order to assess this challenge, an Iowa State Univ ersity research team conducted a survey of 38 American supervisors, who represen ted 14 Iowa construction companies. Sixty-six percent of the survey participants worked in areas of heavy/highway construction and the remaining 34% worked in areas related to gene ral commercial construction. Results of the survey confirm that communication is the main problem experienced by American supervisors at

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16 the jobsite. It should also be noted that these survey result s indicate that many American supervisors also use or depend on a link-person (an individual who interp rets directions or instructions for the rest of the Hispanic crew) to communicate to the Hispanic workers. Research findings also showed that language differences adversely affected productivity and workplace safety in the construction industry. As a result of these findings, the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering se t out to develop Spanish as a second language course (SSL) for Caucasian supervisors. The inte nt of this course was to assist non-Hispanic supervisors in developing the ability to communi cate in Spanish, thus diminishing the need of a link person to assign daily tasks to Spanish wo rkers. According to this study, improved communication channels between non-Hispanic supervisors and Hi spanic workers will strengthen the supervisor-worker relationship, resulting in increased work productivity and quality and a reduction of fatalities on the job site. Supervisor-Worker Relationship and it s affects on Construction Safety Dr. Jimmie Hinze (1979) reported on a study on the supervisor worker relationship and its affects on the injury rate on jobsites. Instead of examini ng the physical environment and how it affects the safety of a worker on the jobsite, Dr. Hinzes study exam ined the supervisors management philosophy and how it affected the sa fety performance of construction workers. Two different studies with two different populat ions showed similar results. One population consisted of top managers from utility contrac ting firms from nine diffe rent metropolitan areas throughout the United States. The other population was a large petrochemical contractor in the in the Gulf Coast region. Both studies involved the same method of gathering data, multiple superintendents on various projects were asked to answer a set of interview questions. Ul timately the purpose of these questions was to determine how the supe rintendents would handl e certain hypothetical

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17 situations. For instance, the superintendent was asked how they handle problems that occur between a foreman and a worker. Another situation was where a worker had recently been promoted to foreman and was having trouble adjus ting to the responsibilit ies and challenges that pertained to the new position. Whatever the situa tion was that presented to the superintendent in the study, the superintendent undert ook one of two different strate gies, one strategy would be a rigid and more structured approach when deal ing with subordinate pr oblems and the other approach would be to handle the situation with se nsitivity and flexibility. Both studies showed that superintendents that liste ned to subordinates and sought a solution based on circumstances and not principle or rigid policy, had significantly lower worker injury rates in comparison with superintendents that applied a more rigid policy toward problems with subordinates. It was concluded from the study that workers that feel valued have better safety performances. Although that study did not involve Hispanic workers, it did i llustrate the significance of the relationship between superinte ndent and worker. In order to be flexible, superintendents must be able to understand what is going on with their subordinates. How is this flexibility possible if the superintendent doe s not understand what the Hispanic worker is trying to say or suggest regarding a problem? It is not realistic to expect a nonHispanic superintendent to learn Spanish but it is realistic to expect a non-Hispanic superint endent to make efforts to communicate to Hispanic workers in their language because this instills the thought that the Hispanic worker is valuable and this awareness of being valued could ultimately lead to an improved safety performance. Injuries and Fatalities among the Hispani c Workforce in the Construction Industry According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic s, Hispanic construction workers have the highest rate of fatal work injuries (4.5/100,000 Hi spanic workers) the highest fatality rate of ethnic groups in the construction industry. In general, Hispanic workers come to the United

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18 States with a poor understanding of health a nd safety and little or no experience with governmental enforcement of safety regulations. Working conditions in thei r countries of origin also influence the Hispanic workers level of sa fety awareness. Such conditions include working in unsafe physical environments; little or no sa fety and health training; being exposed to dangerous tools, machines, and equipment; abusiv e supervisors; lack of appropriate personal protective equipment and others( Brunette 2004 p.258). Brunette also stat es that on average, Hispanic immigrants have lower levels of formal education than other groups. Fifty six percent have completed fewer than 12 years of school, a nd over half report speaki ng English not well or not at all. This could indicate that Hispanic wo rkers may not have the literacy skills to grasp concepts that stem from traditional safety training. Verbal reinforcement in safety training from a supervisor may be necessary. Background of Hispanic Workers In order to become effective at managing some one, it is necessary to understand their way of doing things. What traits does this person share with their ethnic group or fellow country men? These traits may help id entify how they perceive their wo rk, their boss, their co-workers, themselves in relation to the proj ect, their personal life, etc. In order to ach ieve this kind of understanding of a subordinate, one may not only need a basic understanding of their language but in addition a basic understa nding of their educational, oc cupational, economic and cultural background. The following are some factors th at should be considered when it comes to managing a Hispanic workforce. Educational Background In 2000 it was estimated that a total of seven million undocumented immigrants entered the United States and almost 70 percent of them are Mexican foreign-born. For the estimated number of foreign-born Mexicans who illegal ly entered the United States, the median

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19 educational level was about eigt h grade(Vasquez 2005 p.15). This means that the majority of the Hispanic immigrants are limited to jobs that do not require a high school diploma. The main concern in regards to education is literacy skills among Hispanic immigrants. If an Hispanic cannot read then written signs th at display directions for certain procedures or awareness of certain hazards are useless to an illiterate Hi spanic. This makes ve rbal communication much more important because it may be the only way to manage some Hispanic workers. Economic and Occupational Ba ckground of Hispanic Workers Hispanic workers may be accustomed to a differe nt safety culture in their home countries. In general Hispanic workers come to the Unite d States with a poor unde rstanding of health and safety, little or no participati on in building, little or no govern mental enforcement of safety regulations. Work related experien ces may also play a role in this lack of safety awareness. These experiences may be working under poor phys ical environments, little or no safety and health training, being exposed to dangerous tools, machines and equipment, abusive supervisors and lack of appropriate persona l protective equipment( Brunette 2004 p.5). This may lead Hispanic workers to believe that th ey are dispensable and this attit ude may carry over to the U.S. In addition, illegal immigrants will generally be willing to work for less pay and work in the most dangerous industries as long as they do not lose their jobs (C rockett 2004 p.70). Work related experiences and lack of safety enfor cement are not the only f actors that may condition Hispanic workers to behave a certain way on the job site. Other factors may be economic in nature. For example it may be very competitive to obtain jobs in Latin American countries. Employers in Latin American c ountries often threaten to fire workers if they complain about organizational treatment and work ing conditions. In Latin Ameri ca, Hispanic workers are taught to be thankful for their jobs. Seventeen milli on Latin American people are out of work as the unemployment rate in the region ha s shot up to its highest level since 1980. They are expected

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20 to get the job done quickly, and move on to the ne xt job. They receive li ttle or no moral support from their employers (Marin 2002 p.16). Cultural Background The Hispanic culture is considered to a co llectivist culture instead of the individualist ways that resonates through out th e culture of the United States. One that follows a collectivist culture would generally have te ndencies of being high in uncertainty avoidance and distance from superiors (Romero 2004 p.63). Members of a co llectivist culture prefer to engage in group activities. More specifi cally, Hispanics will look after the gr oups interests rather than individual interests. The Hispanic culture also has a greater power distan ce, as there is much greater distance between the powerful and powerless. Lead ers are viewed as absolute authority figures that delegate and rarely use teams, and they (lead ers) are regarded with much respect. Hispanic subordinates rarely question or oppose figures of aut hority. This is due to their desire to avoid uncertainty. Hispanics find that it is better to rema in silent to keep their job than report possible job site hazards or incidents th at could create negative opinions from their employer. This characteristic could lead to more risk taki ng activities among the Hisp anic workers on site (Vasquez 2005 16). Another culture related concept that may infl uence both the work and safety performance of a Hispanic construction worker is machisimo. This is a term that identifies the masculinity of the typical Hispanic worker. Machismo can have a negative effect on a Hispanic worker because this can make one feel like they must prove their manhood to themselves and others around them. This can lead to reckless or uns afe behavior on the jobsite. Examples of machisimo at its worst would be a Hispanic worker refusing to wear personal protective equipment because it may be perceived as not be ing manly or another ex ample would be if an Hispanic worker refused medical attention for a new injury that may need it. The one-sided,

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21 violent view of machisimo is reinforced as much by the American culture as by Hispanic tradition, and may have the effect of encouraging Hispanic men to fit the violen t, controlling image of masculinity portraye d by Hollywood (Marin 2002 p17). Relationship between English Proficiency an d Injury Rates of Hispanic Workforce in the Construction Industry The language barrier is one of the major factors behind the death rate among Hispanic workers. For instance in regards to traditional safety training, th e transmission method is used to deliver it. Generally, in this method the traine r attempts to transmit the information to the student where the student is expected to receiv e, understand, and use the information. Also, the transmission method presumes a level of educatio n on the past of the recipient that may not be the case for Hispanics. Transmission breaks down wh en there exists a lang uage barrier and, in cases where the training including written instru ction is provided in Spanish, the information may not be clearly understood due to literacy skills among Hispanics. The inability to communicate effectively can place Hispanic work ers and their English speaking coworkers in unsafe situations that can be pr evented with appropriate traini ng. In order to define the relationship between a language ba rrier and injury rates, F. Da vid Pierce conducted a case study on a company to determine if low English proficienc y and an increase in injury rates were based on a causal or an associated relationship. With a transition to a predominately non-English speaking workforce, A company experienced increases in injury rates among both nonand limited English speaking workers. Statistics sh owed that these workers were experiencing a higher percentage of injuries. Based on statistical inference of causality, the company launched an aggressive effort to increase English skills among its workers, deducing that this would help lower the injury rates (Pierce 2003 p.41). In addition to rising in jury rates; quality of work, performance of work, and worker utilization continue d to erode. Initially the, firm in that case

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22 study decided that taking a fix the workers appr oach would work. This method proved to be unsuccessful and eventually the firm took a new approach in addressing this problem. According to Pierce, the firm implemented a new systems strategy plan. The results of this new approach proved to be satisfactory. Communication and Productivity Many non-Hispanic speaking superintende nts may rely on a link-person for communication with their Hispanic speaking worker s or they (superintendents) may attempt to communicate with Hispanic subordinates th emselves by using non-verbal communication including instance the use of visual aides, hand gestures, or mimicking activities. While this form of communication may work in a simple task or scenario such as asking for a hammer, this form of communication could be much less effectiv e for something like telling a worker to make sure to drill holes in the exact center of certain wall studs to r un wiring. The problem with this kind of communication is that it may leave dire ctives or instructions unclear between the Hispanic worker and the non-Hisp anic superintendent. The Hispanic workers may nod their heads to indicate that they understand and then proceed to carry out a task in the incorrect manner which could lead to injury, work that must be redone, loss of productivity, or several other complications. Clarity is crucial in communication between nonsuperintendents and Hispanic workers. Clarity may be achieved with the aide of a link pe rson but this inevitably creates a dependence on that link person. This could lead to co mplications. For instance, a nonHispanic superintendent may want give directives to a Hispanic laborer but is unable to make these directives because the person to translate th e information one is not available. In such a situation productivity is halted until effective co mmunication is made. This kind of complication is unacceptable on the jobsite There are enough challenges already for a non-Hispanic superintendent.

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23 Job site studies have shown that between fort y and sixty percent of a typical construction work day is spent on non-productive efforts. Non productive time can be defined as time associated with workers waiting for instructions doing redo work, waiting due to lack of proper supervision, etc (Adrian 2004 p.85). Hundreds of millions of dollars of non-productive work are performed each year that can be traced to poor communications. Feedback from subordinates is an important factor when managi ng them. This will certai nly be lacking if the superintendent does not understand what the Hispanic worker is trying to say. Perhaps the worker may have a useful suggestion that could ma ke a process more efficient or perhaps there is a problem that the superintendent is unaware of. In addition, th e fact that the worker may be always told what to do rather than asked for idea s can lead to a worker attitude that may prove counter productive(Adrian 2004 p.87). Communication is crucial to a ll aspects on the job site. Co mmunicating to a worker is by no means one way. Effective communication entails listening as well as talking. All too often the supervisor only talks at the workers instead of asking the worker for ideas or listening to his concerns(Adrian 2004 p.92). In addition differences in education/experience and site conditions make effective comm unication difficult enough between s upervisor and worker. This communication problem discussed by Adrian doe s not include the cha llenge of a language barrier between Hispanic worker and non-Hispanic supervisor. Adrian developed a ten step program for improving construction productivity. The scope of this paper does not discuss all ten of them but in fact only two of them. One step is improved communications. This step was already discu ssed above. The other step is productivity improvement through safety. Regardless of the reasons for the many construction accidents that occur at job sites, the fact remains that they ha ve an adverse affect on construction productivity.

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24 In addition to the detrimental effect of the inju ry for the worker himself, accidents are likely to cause low worker morale, work disruptions related to identifying the cause of accident and higher insurance premiums (Adrian 2004 p.98).

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25 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Introduction The United States Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statisti cs reveal that 16 percent of the workforce within the United States construc tion industry is Hispanic and that Hispanic workers are more likely to suffer work-related inju ries than any other ethnic group. This may be explained, in part by the communi cations and cultural barrier th at exists between non-Hispanic superintendent and Hispanic work er. The objective of this resear ch is to identify techniques and practices that will help non-Hispanic superi ntendents overcome this communication gap, thus utilizing the Hispanic workforce in a safe and effective manner. In order to identify these techniques and practices to mitigate the cultural and language barrier, this research evaluated the Non-Hispanic superintendents persp ective on the Hispanic workforce. Rationale for the Research The rationale behind this research was to get a representative sample of the non-Hispanic superintendents within Florida. This sample wa s to enable some insight in regards to the high rate of fatal and non-fatal inju ries among the Hispanic populati on and also methods used to prevent these incidents. In addition this samp le of non-Hispanic superi ntendents would provide some insight on the gravity of challenge of ma naging Hispanic workers and possibly ways to improve the integration of the Hispanic work force within the U.S. construction industry. The objectives of this research were the following; To gather background, personal, and demogra phic information on the Hispanic population on job sites. To determine how much of an impact the cu ltural and language barrier has on the safety and productivity of the job site. To identify the non-Hispanic superintendents po sition in regards to mitigating the cultural and language differences of the Hispanic workforce.

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26 To determine the non-Hispanic superintendents attitude concerning th e performance of the Hispanic workforce on the job site. To test the null hypothesis that a non-Hispa nic superintendents exposure to Spanish courses influences their perspec tive on managing Hispanic workers. Source of Data In order to accomplish the objectives men tioned above it was necessary to develop a survey. The first step that was taken towards the development of the survey was to look at other surveys that used to conduct a si milar study. This research looked at one of the surveys used to aide in the development of an effective construction training pr ogram for non-Hispanic supervisors with Hispanic craft wo rkers, this research was conduc ted at Iowa State University. The second step in the development of the survey for this research was to extract questions from the Iowa State University survey that were cons idered relevant to this research and develop a survey from those questions that were extracte d. The third step in the development of this survey was to carry out several revisions of the survey under development. During the third stage of development, some questions extracted from the Iowa State Study were kept in this survey and others were removed and replaced by other questions that were created from discussions between the principal investigator and the chair of this research in regards to the objectives of this research. This survey has gone through numerous revisions before we finalized and submitted it to the IRB (International Review Board) for approval. Each survey was filled out during the phone interviews or on site interviews. In other words the survey acted as a guide for questioning the participant duri ng the phone or on site interview. The survey consists of 22 questions. These questions we re broken down into the following categories. Gross volume of the construction firm. Demographics of workers on current proj ect (subcontractors, Hispanics, etc.) Amount of exposure to Spanish language courses. General attitudes toward work ing with Hispanic workers.

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27 Experiences and developed methods from managing Hispanic workers. General educational and work background. Information on injury rates on current project The sample population of respondents consiste d of 2 superintendent s from 15 different construction firms that operate in Florida, thus a total of 30 su perintendents were interviewed. When it was necessary to determine sample size, the number 30 was established as the sample size with a confidence of 90%. Most texts talk of large samp le approximations, and they generally interpret large as meaning n_>30 (Ostle & Malone 126). Points of contact for the 15 different companies were establ ished at the University of Flor idas Building Construction Fall Career Fair of 2006. Companies we re selected due to their will ingness to participate in this study and their operations in Florid a. This willingness to par ticipate was based on impressions from project managers and marke ting or human resource people from various companies at the career fair. Method for Data Collection It was determined that phone interviews woul d be the most efficient way to obtain data from the superintendents. This logic was based on the method of data collection that would be most successful. For example a lower level of in volvement by this researcher would be if the researcher would send out surveys in the mail th us completely relying on the respondent to both fill out the survey and return it. This splits the data generation and collection process thus reducing the likelihood of data retrieval and an alysis in a timely manner for this study. The highest level of involveme nt would be through onsite intervie ws; this would be the best method for collecting data. Because of financial and time constraints th at this study faced, it was decided to collect data by phone interviews. Even though this method is not as involved as on site interviews, it would still enable both data gene ration and collection to occur simultaneously thus

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28 making this process streamlined. The goal was to obtain the participation of 15 different construction firms in addition each construc tion firm was to provide access to two superintendents that would participate in the study. Thus it was necessary obtain participation from thirty superintendents Even though the initial goal was to conduct interviews with representatives from 15 companies at the career fair, instead phone interv iews were using points of contact from the fall 2006 career fair. This deficiency in survey data was primarily due to difficulties resulting from the reluctance of some superinte ndents/companys to participate in telephone interviews. As a result, other measures for coll ecting data were taken. The re vised method to data collection involved the assistance of a day labor recruiter in th e central Florida area. This day labor recruiter would recruit temporary (day) labor for several construction sites throughout central Florida. As a result of th e day labor recruiters day to day communications with various superintendents, the day labor re cruiter had little difficulty in obtaining data from 10 different companies in the central Florida area by distribu ting the telephone interview surveys to their job superintendents. Two superintendents from each of these ten companies participated in this study. In other words the day labo r recruiter was able to obtain 20 surveys that represented the involvement of ten companies in this study. In the end data were obtained from 30 different superintendents that represente d 15 different construction compan ies in the Florida area. Ten surveys were obtained from the principal invest igator through phone interviews and 20 surveys were obtained from the day labor recruiter thro ugh questionnaires that were distributed to superintendents. Data Analysis The data that were collected from these phone interviews and mailed surveys was entered in Microsoft Excel, to develop bot h standard charts and contingenc y tables so the data could be

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29 processed, illustrated, and analyze d. The purpose of the analysis wa s to identify the existence of any relationships between the superintendents e xposure to Spanish courses and their perspective on managing Hispanic workers, In addition, this analysis ai med to provide descriptive characteristics of both the Hisp anic population in the workfor ce and the superintendents that manage them. Finally this analysis was intende d to shed some light on the magnitude of the cultural and language barrier betw een Hispanic workers and non-Hi spanic superintendents.

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30 CHAPTER 4 DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS Introduction Data collected from this survey served as the foundation for this research. All of the surveys were received from the sample population. The null hypothesis was that a Superintendents exposure to a Spanish as sec ond language (SSL) course did not influence their perspective on managing Hispanic workers. To test this hypothesis, the sample population was divided into those superintende nts that had taken a Spanish as a second language course (SSL) and those superintendents that had not taken a Sp anish as a second language course. Some of the survey questions were relevant to determini ng the superintendents perspective on Hispanic workers. The responses that were considered re levant to testing the nul l hypothesis were placed in a Chi-square mode to compare the response of the superintendents that had and had not taken a Spanish language course. To test other relatio nships, the Chi-square test was also conducted on other responses that did not pert ain to testing the null hypothesis. Chi-square te sts that were conducted on any question in this study sought re lationships that had a confidence of 95% or more. Size of Company and Projects One characteristic that was used to determ ine the size of each c onstruction firm that participated in this study was to look at their gross annual volu me. The annual dollar volume of work of the respondents is disp layed in Figure 4-1. Eighteen of the 30 respondents worked for construction firms that performed over 100 milli on dollars of work per year. Six of the 30 respondents worked for companys that generate d 1 to 20 million dollars of work per year. These six companies were considered to be sm all while the 18 respondents that generated over

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31 100 million dollars of work were considered large. The remainder of the respondents was placed in the category of medium sized construction firms (Figure 4-1). In order to obtain demographic informati on about the Hispanic population of the work force within in the construction industry, this research obtained an estimate of the total number of workers on each of the respondent s jobsites and an estimate of a number of Hispanic workers on the jobsite. This estimate of the number of workers incl uded the subcontractors on the project. In order to simplify the information presented the overall av erage of the number of workers that ranged from small to large populat ions was compared with the overall average number of Hispanic workers. Of the overall av erage of all workers on this chart is compared it to the overall average of Hispan ic workers on this chart, it is evident that roughly 61 percent of all workers accounted for on this the chart are Hispanic. A Chisquare test was conducted to determine if there is a relationship between the number of worker s on each project and proportion of Hispanic workers on th ese projects. The results of th e Chi-square test showed that there was a relationship at a 95% confid ence level ( Figure 4-2 and Table 4-1). This research also attempted to obtain demographic information on the number of undocumented Hispanic workers on projects. Becau se of the delicate natu re of this issue, responses should be regarded as estimates at best. Twenty four of the 30 superintendents provided an estimate of the percentage of th e Hispanic workers on these projects who are undocumented. Because this topic could be consider ed controversial, this is possibly one reason that this information was not pr ovided by all 30 respondents. In or der to determine if there was a relationship between annual company volum e and the number of undocumented Hispanic workers, a Chi-square test was conducted. The re sults of the Chi-square test showed there was not a significant relationship between the number of undocumented Hispanic workers and annual

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32 company volume. In addition another Chi-square test was conducted to determine if there is a relationship between the overa ll number of workers on each project and the number of undocumented workers. The results of this Ch i-square test showed that there was not a significant relationship between the number of workers on each project and the number of undocumented Hispanic workers on each project ( Figure 4-3). Spanish Language Course Exposure and Its Impact on the Respondents Superintendents were asked if th ey had ever taken a Spanish cl ass. In total 37 percent of the respondents had some exposure to Spanish language courses and 63 %t of the respondents had not had any exposure to such courses. A Chisquare test was conducted to determine if there was a relationship between whether or not a su perintendent had or not had taken a Spanish language course and the number of workers on their project. The re sults of this Chi-square test showed that there was not a significant relations hip. Another Chi-square test was conducted to determine if there was a relationship between wh ether or not a superint endent had or had not taken a Spanish course and the annual income vol ume of the company that the superintendent worked for. The results of this Chi-square test showed that there is a significant relationship with a confidence at 99.5 % ( Figure 4-4 and Table 4-2). Figures 4-5 to 4-10 apply to the 11 (37%) of the respondents that had taken a Spanish language course. In order to determine how many hours of experience respondents had with Spanish language courses, this research obtained a breakdown in hours of experience among respondents that have had Spanish language c ourse. Of the 11 respondents that had taken Spanish language course, results showed that 45 % had between 10 to 40 hrs and 55 % had more than 40 hrs of Spanish language course. Since th e sample size for their responses was eleven, no statistical test was c onducted ( Figure 4-5).

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33 Six (55%) of the respondents that had take n a Spanish language course, had taken this Spanish language course after High school. Ta king post high school Spanish language course may indicate some self interest on the part of respondents to l earn about speaking or understanding the Spanish language ( Figure 4-6). In order to make a thorough assessment of the Spanish language course taken by the respondents it was necessary to find out if the course taken were re lated to construction. Nine of the 11 superintendents that had taken a Spanish c ourse answered this question. Two of the nine respondents stated that they had taken a Spanish course that was related to construction ( Figure 4-7). To find out if their exposure to Spanish langua ge courses was useful or helpful when it came to actually managing Hispanic workers on th e construction site, the superintendents were asked how useful these Spanish language courses were on the construction site. Most of the respondents stated that their ex perience with Spanish language courses was average or good for managing Hispanic workers on the jobsite ( Figure 4-8). Another concern of the research when it came to assessing Spanish language course taken by the respondents was finding how well these courses fit their needs and exp ectations. This ties in with how practical the Spanish language course were. If the respondents were able to apply what they learned in the Spanish class on the jobs ite, then this could mean that this course met their needs or expectations. Seven of the 11 respondents stated that their experience with Spanish language courses was aver age or better in terms of mee ting their needs and expectations ( Figure 4-9). Another question that was aske d was about the level of diffi culty of the Spanish language courses that they had taken. Most (82%) of the respondents noted that the Spanish language

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34 course was of average difficulty the remainder (18%) of the respondents noted that the Spanish language courses were difficult. This could indica te that most superinten dents have the aptitude to learn some or all of the Spanish language ( Figure 4-10). The next question was directed toward those respondents who had never taken a course in Spanish. For 19 of the 30 respondents who had never had a Spanish course, a question was asked if they had any interest in taking a Spanis h course. Fifty eight percent of the respondents stated that they were interest ed in taking a Spanish language c ourse. A Chi-square test was conducted on the responses to this question to determine if there was a relationship between a superintendents interest in taking a Span ish language course and whether or not the superintendent agreed or disa greed with the statement that Hispanic workers should learn English if they want to work in the construction industry. The results of the Chi-square test showed that there was no signifi cant relationship between a superint endents interest in taking a Spanish course and whether or not they agreed or disagreed that Hispanic workers should learn English if they want to work in construction ( Figure 4-11). In addition to asking the superi ntendents if they would or w ould not like to take a Spanish class, they were asked if they considered im proving communication capabilities with Hispanic workers a priority. Based on the Chi-square test that was applied to their responses, it was determined that there is a significant relati onship at the 97.5 % confidence level, That is, superintendents who have taken a Spanish language course also expresse d a desire to improve their communications with Hispanic workers. As a result of the Chi-square test, the null hypothesis was rejected ( Figure 4-12 and Ta ble 4-3). The null hypothesis was that a superintendents exposure to Spanish as a s econd language course ha d no influence on how important it is for them to improve their co mmunication skills with Hispanic workers.

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35 This research also wanted to determine if th e superintendents had an interest in taking a more streamlined Spanish langua ge course focused only on cons truction. The development of such a course is another issue. This question in the survey assumed that such a class existed and that it was available to all re spondents. A Chi-square test was conducted to test the null hypothesis that a superintendents exposure to a Spanish course doe s not influence their interest in taking a Spanish language course that is fo cused only on construction. The results of Chisquare test showed that there is a statisti cally significant (p=.95) relationship between a superintendents exposure to Spanish language course and their interest in taking Spanish language courses focused only on co nstruction. The findings from th e Chi-square test reject the null hypothesis. That is, the superintendents exposure to Spanish language courses does influence their interest in taking a Spanish la nguage course that focuses only on construction ( Figure 4-13 and Table 4-4). General Educational and Profession al Background of the Respondents In order to determine the overall aptitude of the sample population to learn a foreign language, the superintendents were asked the highest levels of education they had achieved. About two -thirds of the populati on either had some college or obtained a bachelors degree from a college. This may indicate that the superint endents prove the capabi lities to learn another language ( Figure 4-14). Superintendents were asked about their pr ofessional background in the construction industry. The first of these questions was if the superintendent every worked as a foreman. Over two-thirds of the respondents had worked as a foreman ( Figure 4-15). Another question went asked th e superintendents who had worked as a foreman how many years they had worked as foreman. About 40 percent of the superintendents had worked between one and five years as a foreman. Eight een of the twenty-three respondents that have

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36 worked as a foreman answered this question. A Chi-square test was conducted to determine if there was a relationship between th e number of years of experience as a foreman and whether or not the superintendent agreed or disagreed that Hispanic workers should learn English if they want to work in construction. The results from the Chi-square test showed that there is not a significant relationship between th ese variables ( Figure 4-16). The superintendents were aske d the number of years that each respondent worked as a superintendent. The purpose of this question was to if there was a relationship between a superintendents experience in th e field and the attitude towards managing Hispanic workers. For instance, superintendents that have many years of experience may have worked through different times that may have influenced thei r perspective on Hispanic workers. Perhaps a superintendent who is new to the industry or who is a recent graduate of college may have a different view about Hispanic workers and be mo re open to new ideas. Roughly one third of the respondents had one to five years experience as a superintendent. A Chi-square test was conducted to determine if there was a relationshi p between the respondents years of experience as a superintendent and whether or not the respo ndent agreed or disagreed that Hispanic workers should learn English if they want to work in co nstruction. The analysis discloses not significant relationship ( Figure 4-17). Respondents Experiences and Perspectiv es on Working with Hispanic Workers Superintendents were asked about the numbe r years that they had managed Hispanic workers. Most (66%) of the superintendents had supervised Hispanic workers from one to eleven years ( Figure 4-18). The superintendents were asked if they had someone on their jobsite to help them communicate with Hispanic worker s. Seventy percent of the respondents stated that they had someone to help them communicat e with Hispanic workers on their site. This indicates that there was some dependence on translators for comm unication. Results of the Chi-

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37 square test showed that there is no relationship between the superintendents exposure to Spanish language classes and whether or not they have someone on site to help them communicate with Hispanic workers ( Figure 4-19). A related question was asked a bout the frequency with which assistance was needed by the superintendents to help them co mmunicate with Hispanic workers on site. Eighty percent of the superintendents stated they sometimes to very often needed help when it came to communicating with Hispanic workers on their projec ts. Further analysis showed that there was no relationship between the supe rintendents exposure to Sp anish language c ourses and how often they used someone to help them communi cate with Hispanic workers on their project ( Figure 4-20). When it came to understanding th e culture of Hispanic workers, roughly half of the superintendents stated that th ey had an average understandi ng of Hispanic culture. This development of understanding could have occurre d through working with Hispanics on a day to day basis. Further analysis showed no relati onship between the superintendents exposure to Spanish language courses and their knowledge of Hispanic culture ( Figure 4-21). Superintendents were asked about the performance of Hispanic workers. Specifically they how they thought the performance of Hispanic workers was compared to that of the performance of non-Hispanic workers. Nearly half of th e superintendents indica ted that the level of performance of Hispanic workers was about the same as non-Hispanic workers. Most of the remaining superintendents felt th at Hispanic workers were bette r performers than non-Hispanic workers. A Chi-square test was conducted to determine if there was a relationship between whether or not a superintendent has had or has not had a Spanish languag e course and how they perceive the Hispanic workers performance in comparison to the performance of non-Hispanic

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38 workers. The results of the Chi-square test show that there is a significant relationship at the 97.5 % confidence level. That is a superintendents exposure to Spanish as a second language course does influence their per ception of managing Hispanic work ers was rejected ( Figure 4-22 and Table 4-5). Superintendents were asked about the safety practices of Hispanic workers compared to non-Hispanic workers. More than three fourths of the superintendents felt that Hispanic workers were not as safe as the non-Hispanic worker. A Chi-square test was conducted to determine if there was a relationship between whether or not a superintendent has had or has not had a Spanish language course and how they perceived th e safety practices of the Hispanic worker in comparison to the safety practices of non-Hispanic workers. The results were not significant ( Figure 4-23). To get a better understanding of the challe nges that come with managing Hispanic workers, superintendents were asked to state their perspectiv e on how well Hispanic workers respond to directives compared to non-Hispanic wo rkers. Over 40 % of the superintendents felt that Hispanic workers were about the same as non-Hispanics in following directives. The remainder was split between Hispanics being bett er or worse than non-Hispanics with slightly more indicating Hispanic workers were not as good ( Figure 4-24) furthe r analysis showed no relationship between whether or not a superintendent has had or has not had a Spanish language course and how they perceive the s Hispanic wo rkers ability to respond to directives in comparison to the non-Hispanic workers ability to respond to directives. Superintendents were asked what language th ey used when they speaking with Hispanic workers. Over half of the superintendents co mmunicated with Hispanic workers in English and the remainder communicated with Hispanic workers in an English/Spanish mix, broken Spanish,

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39 and Spanish ( Figure 4-25). The results of Chi-sq uare test showed that there is a significant relationship at 99.5 % confidence, between a superintendents exposure Spanish as a second language course and what language they used when communicating with Hispanic workers ( Table 4-6). Superintendents were asked to identify the greatest challenges associ ated with managing a Hispanic workforce. The biggest problem noted by nearly 60 % of the superintendents was communication. Over thirty pe rcent mentioned that Hispanic workers take risks. Further analysis revealed no relationshi p between the type of problems and a superintendents exposure to Spanish classes ( Figure 4-26) Superintendents were asked to offer suggestio ns that might be useful to mitigate the language barrier with Hispanic workers. Over fort y percent stated that the use of a translator was the best way to mitigate the language barrier. Ot her comments were that the Hispanic worker should learn English or that supe rintendents should learn Spanis h, or that demonstrations and visual aides should be used ( Figure 4-27). Safety Performance on Respondents Projects Superintendents were asked if they knew the OS HA recordable injury rate for their project. Almost two thirds of the res pondents did not know the OSHA reco rdable injury rate for their project. Of the twelve superinte ndents, eleven reported that they had incurred no injuries of their projects. With only one superint endent reporting a reco rdable injury rate that was not zero. Further analysis on the data appeared warrant ed. All though 18 superintendents did not know their recordable injury rate Then superintendents were asked to report the number of injuries that occurred on the project. Of these, twelve reported no injury, three repor ted one injury and two reported two injuries.

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40 Summary of Results Based on the analysis of the information that was obtained certain tr ends and observations can be discovered. The Hispanic workers ar e clearly a significant population with in the construction workforce. Trends show that as the worker population increased on each project, the proportion of the Hispanic work ers also increased, i.e. larger projects had a larger proportion of Hispanic workforce. There is a significant relationship between a superintendents exposure to a Spanish language course and the annual volume of the co mpany that they work for. Compared to companies with annual volumes of less than $60 million, larger companies with annual volumes >$61 million had a higher proportion of superinte ndents that had not taken a Spanish language course. Of the thirty superintendents that were interviewed, eleven of them had some exposure to Spanish as a second language course and ninet een of the superintendents had no exposure to such courses. Six of the eleven respondents had taken this Spanish language course after high school which may indicate that they were self motivated to take this course since college unlike high school does not have a manda tory language requirement. Se ven of the eleven respondents that took a Spanish language class stated that th e Spanish class was useful on the job. Of the 19 respondents that had not taken a Span ish class, eleven of them stated that they would like to take a Spanish language course if given the chance. When the thirty superintendents were aske d if it was important to improve their communication skills with Hispanic workers, 13 of them stated that it was important or really important. On the other hand, nine stated that it was not important. The rest were neutral on the subject. Evidently, superintendents that have had a Spanish language course appear to show a greater interest in improving th eir communication skills than thos e superintendents that had not

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41 taken a Spanish language course. Taking a Sp anish language course does not influence a superintendents interest in improving their communication skills with Hispanic workers. There was limited support in taking a Spanish la nguage course that was focused only on construction, the superintendents who were in fa vor of taking a Spanish class with a focus on construction were those who had already take n a Spanish class of some type. Most superintendents agreed that Hispanic workers sh ould learn English if they want to work in construction. Nearly half of the superintendents felt that the best way to mitigate the language barrier with Hispanic worker was through the use of a translator. Communication problems are the main problems on the job site as they relate to Hispanic workers. Risk taking by the Hispanic workers is also a problem that is of concern. Ultimately, 26 of the 30 respondents believed that risk ta king and or communicati on has been the main problem with the Hispanic workforce on the job site. Most superintendents stated that Hispanic worker s were good at responding to directives perform tasks. When asked about the Hispanic workers job safety practices in comparison to the job safety practices of non-Hispanic wo rkers. Most respondents stated th at the job safety practices of Hispanic workers are worse than non-Hispanic workers. Most of the unfavorable comments towards the safety practices of Hispanic work ers came from superinte ndents that had taken a Spanish course. This research is not able to explain this. When asked about the performance of Hispanic workers compared to the performance of non-Hispanic workers, 93 percent of the responden ts stated that the pe rformance of Hispanic workers is the same or better than non-Hispan ic workers. A superintendents exposure to Spanish language courses influences their pers pectives on the performa nce of Non-Hispanic workers. All eleven of the superintendents th at had a Spanish language course stated that

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42 Hispanics workers were as good as or better performers than non-Hispanic workers. The compiled data from this analysis indicate that the Hispanic population is a component of the construction workforce in Florida. Most superi ntendents m satisfied with the productivity with the Hispanic workforce. Poor safety practices ap pear to be a considerab le concern regarding the Hispanic workforce. .Regarding the language barr ier, most superintendents agree that Hispanics should learn English but in the meantime they m sa tisfied with having a tr anslator as a way to mitigate the language barrier with Hispanic workers.

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43 0 6 2 2 2 18 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 1 to 2021 to 4041 to 6061 to 8081 to 100> 100 Annual income volume in millionsnumber of contractors Figure 4-1. Annual volume of income (N=30) Number of non-Hispanic Workers and Hispanic workers 70 7 138 100 55 33 16 28 64 11 53 92 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 1 to 20 21 to 40 41 to 60 61 to 80 81 to 100 < 100Number of Non-Hispanic Hispanic Figure 4-2. Average number of non-Hispanic and Hispanic workers on projects (N=30)

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44 Table 4-1. Project Relationship between the total number of workers and the number of Hispanic workers (N=30) small population large population Total Total number of workers 104308412 Number of Hispanic workers 46209255 Total 150517667 2 value 4.68 Critical value @ 95 percent confidence @ 1 D.F. 3.84 8 22 33 1 3 2 0 5 10 15 20 01 to 10 11 to 20 21 to 30 31 to 40 41 to 50 51 to 60 61 to 70 71 to 80 81 to 90 90 to 100 Percent of undocumented workers Number of respondents Figure 4-3. Estimation of percentage of undocumented Hispanic workers among Hispanic workers overall on the project (N=22)

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45 37% 63% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Yes No Figure 4-4. Respondents that have or have not had a Spanish class (N=30) Table 4-2. Relationship of taking Spanish as a se cond language (SSL) course and annual income volume of company (N=30) Annual income volume of company Had a SSL course Yes no total < $ 60 million Small to medium annual volume (millions) 46 10 $ 60 million large annual volume (millions) 416 20 822 30 2 value 10 Critical value @ .995 confidence @ 1 D.F. 7.88

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46 45% 55% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Less than 10 hrsBetween 10 and 40 hrsMore than 40 hrs Figure 4-5. Hours of Spanish language instru ction that respondent s had taken (N=11) 55% 45% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% yesno Figure 4-6. Respondents that had a Spanish la nguage course after high school (N=11)

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47 78% 22% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% yesno Figure 4-7. Respondents that had a Spanish langua ge course related to construction (N=9)

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48 36% 36% 0% 18% 9% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% not at allpooraveragegoodvery good Figure 4-8. Usefulness of Spanish language courses on the constr uction site (N=11) 0% 36%36% 27% 0% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% not at allpooraveragegoodvery good Figure 4-9. How well the Spanish language course s met respondents needs and expectations (N=11)

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49 0%0% 18% 0% 82% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% very easyeasyaveragedifficultvery difficult Figure 4-10. Difficulty of Spanish language course that had been taken (N=11) 58% 42% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% yesno Figure 4-11. Respondents that would or would not take a Spanish class (N=19)

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50 7% 30% 27% 13% 23% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% really not important not important neutralimportatntreally important Figure 4-12. Rating of the importance of improving communication skills with Hispanic workers (N=30) Table 4-3. Relationship between whether or not the respondent had a Spanish as a second language course (SSL) and how important it is to improve their communication skills with Hispanic workers (N=30) Importance of Communication with Hispanic workers Not important Important Total # of responses Has had a SSL course 4711 Has not had a SSL course 15419 Total # of responses 191130 2 value 5.440122708 Critical value @ 1 D.F. @ .975 confidence 5.02

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51 20% 33% 17% 7% 23% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% really not important not importantneutralimportantreally important Figure 4-13. Level of importance fo r respondents to take Spanish language course focused only on construction. (N= 30). Table 4-4. Relationship between Respondents exposure to Spanish language courses and their interest to take Spanish as a second language course (SSL) focused only on construction (N=30). Superintendents interest in taking a Spanish course focused only on construction. Not important Important Total # of responses Has had a SSL course 6511 Has not had a SSL course 17219 Total # of responses 23730 2 value 4.11 Critical Value @ .95 confidence interval @1 D.F. 3.84

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52 37% 7% 3% 13% 40% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% technical school high school highschool and tech school some collegecollege Figure 4-14. Highest levels of educa tion completed by respondents (N=30) 77% 23% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% yes no Figure 4-15. Respondents that wo rked as a foreman (N=30)

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53 39% 11% 17% 11% 22% 0% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 1<1 to 56 to 1011 to 1617 to 22<22 Years as a foreman Figure 4-16. Number of years that each respondent worked as a foreman (N=18) 10% 13% 13% 10% 13% 40% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 1<1 to 56 to 1011 to 1617 to 22<22Number of Years Figure 4-17. Number of years th at each respondent has been a superintendent (N=30)

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54 33%33% 13% 10% 3% 7% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 1<1 to 56 to 1112 to 1718 to 23 23 Number of years Figure 4-18. Number of year s that each superintendent has su pervised Hispanic workers (N=30) 70% 30% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% yesno Figure 4-19. Respondents that have someone on site to help them communicate with Hispanic workers (N=30)

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55 10% 13% 0% 20% 57% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% neverseldomsometimesoftenvery often Figure 4-20. Frequency that supe rintendent used someone to help them communicate with Hispanic workers on their project (N=30)

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56 47% 20% 10% 23% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% very weakweakokaywellvery well 4-21. Respondents knowledge of Hispanic culture (N=30)

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57 0% 40% 47% 7% 7% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Much worseNot as goodThe sameBetterMuch better Performance compared to non-Hispanic workers Figure 4-22. Respondents descriptio n of the performance of Hispanic workers compared to NonHispanic workers (N=30) Table 4-5. Relationship between wh ether or not Superintendent ha d taken a Spanish as a second language course(SSL) and their percepti on of Hispanic workers performance compared to the performance non-Hispanic workers (N=30) How Hispanic Workers Performed compared to non-Hispanic workers Worse Better Total # of responses Has had a SSL course 01111 Has not had a SSL course 21719 Total # of responses 22830 2value 5.09 Critical Value@ 97.5% confidence@ 1 D.F. 5.02

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58 3% 20% 47% 30% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Much worseNot as goodThe sameBetterMuch better Safety practices compared to non-Hispanic workers Figure 4-23. Respondents descript ion of the safety practices of Hispanic workers (N=30) 3% 20% 43% 20% 13% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Much worseNot as goodThe sameBetterMuch better compared to other non-Hispanic workers Figure 4-24. Respondents perspectives on how we ll Hispanic workers re spond to directives (N=30).

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59 Table 4-6. Relationship between what Language that Superintendents use when communicating with Hispanic workers and the respondents exposure to Spanish as a second language course (SSL) (N=30). Language Superintendent used to communicate with Hispanic workers English English & Spanish Broken Spanish or Spanish Total Has had a SSL course 146 11 Has not had a SSL course 1621 19 Total # of responses 1767 30 2 Value 16.51 Critical value @ .9995% confidence @ 2 D.F. 15.2 57% 13% 27% 3% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% EnglishEnglish mixed with Spanish Broken SpanishSpanish Figure 4-25. Language used by respondent when communicating with Hispanic workers (N=30)

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60 7% 3% 10% 21% 59% 0%20%40%60%80%100% communication both communication and taking risks cultural differences taking risks other Figure 4-26. what respondents consid er to be the main problems that relate to Hispanic workers (N=29) 11% 43% 11% 21% 14% 0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100% Use a translator I should learn Spanish They should learn English Other Demonstrations / Visuals Figure 4-27. Respondents opinion on what is the best way to mitigate the language barrier (N=28)

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61 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION With the face of the construction indust ry undergoing a steady transition towards a predominantly Hispanic workforce, there is some concern on what challenges this will bring to a non-Hispanic superintendent who is supposed to manage them. The research objective was to find out what qualities were necessary for a supe rintendent to have in order to effectively manage a Hispanic workforce that has a different language and comes from a different culture. Initially the position of this res earch was that if a superintende nt had some exposure to Spanish language courses then they would get better productivity and better sa fety practices from a Hispanic workforce than a superintendent that has not had any exposure to Spanish language courses. The findings from this research show that a nonHispanic superint endents exposure to Spanish language courses has minimal impact on productivity or safety. All though other studies have indicated injuries or loss of productivity are problems that are associated with a language barrier. Most non-Hispanic superintendents rely on a translator for communication with Hispanic workers. Relying on translators appear s to be an adequate approach to managing a Hispanic workforce. Non-Hispanic superinte ndents that rely on tran slators for communication still get productivity from Hispanic workers that is generally equal to or better than productivity from non-Hispanic workers. Alt hough most of the Hispanic worker s were considered equal to or better in productivity when compared to non-Hi spanic workers, the Hispanic workforce was considered to have much worse safety practices when compared to non-Hispanic workers. This study and other studies have indicated that Hisp anic workers have poor safety practices. This research does not assert that the langua ge barrier is not significant when regarding injury rates and productivity on job sites. Instead this research asserts that the cultural barrier

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62 appears to play a bigger role in injury rates and productivity on job sites. It is concluded from this study that the cause of poor safety pract ices among Hispanic workers is not from the language barrier but it is from mi suse of the translator on the j ob site and cultural differences between Hispanic worker and th e non-Hispanic superintendent.

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63 CHAPTER 6 RECOMENDATIONS Recommendations for the Construction Industry It was concluded that misuse of the transl ator on the job site a nd cultural differences between a non-Hispanic superintendent and a Hi spanic worker were factors that led to poor safety practices among Hispanic workers. Mi suse of the translator occurs when the superintendent has not fully utili zed the translator. The translat or should not only be used for giving directives but the translator should be used to instill value in the Hispanic worker. Studies have shown that workers that feel valued by th eir supervisors generally have better safety practices. Non-Hispanic superintendents can in still value in Hispanic workers by making it clear through the translator that the Hisp anic workers feedback is important, that this workers safety is more important than the job or company or that this worker is a very important investment to the company. These things can instill value in a worker thus improving the safety practices of this worker. Finally the non-Hisp anic superintendent should use th e translator to learn as much as they can about the ways, perspectives or culture of the Hispanic workers. Recommendations for Future Studies Additional research on this topi c is warranted. For example, one approach would be to utilize the AGC (American General Contractor s) database and randomly select about 500 companies throughout Florida. Then this rese arch suggests that one should contact these companies and randomly select about two Hispanic workers from each company. These workers would then be surveyed. The survey should be designed to find out cu ltural issues of the Hispanic workers. For instance the survey c ould ask the workers about their responses to hypothetical situations. That is th ey would be given an order to carry out in unsafe conditions to determine how important their views are in comp arison to the company or their superiors.

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64 Another possible survey question could ask about the workers t hought on death, God, or masculinity. The purpose of the survey should be to identify cultural issues that could be causes for poor safety practices. From there one could de termine ways to correct these cultural issues thus improving the safety practices of Hispanic workers.

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65 APPENDIX A SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE COVER LETTER Statement to be Read to Participants October 1, 2006 To: Potential Study Participants Subject: Examination of Construction Superintendent Perspective concerning Hispanic workers We, the M. E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Co nstruction at the Univer sity of Florida, are conducting a study in the state of Florida on safety among Hispanic workers. The focus of the study is to assess the various as pects of the construction envi ronment that may impact the productivity and safety performances of Hispanic workers. The study will be conducted through personal in terviews in which a variety of questions will be asked about your background, your expe rience in the construc tion industry, and your relationship with your employer. There are no risk s associated with participating in this study and the interview can be completed in about te n minutes. Naturally, you are asked to answer only those questions that you feel comfortable in answering. We re gret that there are no direct benefits or compensation to you fo r participating in this study.

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66 Your individual responses will be kept strictly confidential to the extent provided by law. Research data will be summarized so that th e identity of individual participants will be concealed. You have my sincere thanks for participating in the valuable study. Additional Content informa tion will be provided: Alex Curry Research Assistant Phone: (727) 871-4452 Email: acc@ufl.edu Jimmie Hinze Ph.D., Professor Phone: (352) 273-1167 Email: hinze@ufl.edu P.S. For information about par ticipant rights, please contac t the University of Florida Institutional Review Board at (352) 392-0433 or Email: IRB2@ufl.edu

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67 APPENDIX B SURVEY FOR SUPERINTENDENTS 1) What is the approximate annual volume of your company? $ million 2) How many workers are on your projec t (including employees of subcontractors?) workers 2A) How many of the workers are Hispanic? 3) Have you ever taken a cour se to help you l earn Spanish? yes no (If No, go to question 4) (If Yes, answer the following questions) 3A) How many total hours of traini ng have you had in Spanish? hrs 3B) Did you take this class after you graduated from high school? yes no 3C) Was this Spanish course related to construction? yes no 3D) How well were you able to use this information on the job not at all poor average good very good 3E) How well did the Spanish course meet your needs and expectations? not at all poor average good very good 3F) How would you rate the degree of difficulty of the Spanish class? very easy easy average difficult very difficult (Go to question 5) 4) If No, would you like to take a Spanish class? yes no 5) Consider this statement. Hispanic workers should be required to lear n English if they want to work in construction. What is your reaction to this statement? Comments:

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68 6) How long have you supervised projects with Hispan ic workers in the workforce? yrs. 7) Do you have someone to help you communicate with Hispanic workers on your project? yes no 8) How well do you understand the culture of Hispanic workers? very weak weak okay well very well 9) How do you describe the overall pe rformance of Hispanic workers? 1= Much worse than other workers 2= Not as good as other workers 3= The same as other workers 4= Better than most workers 5= Much better than most workers 10) How would you describe the job safety practices of Hispanic workers? 1= Much worse than other workers (they take many risks) 2= Not as good as other workers 3= The same as other workers 4= Better than most workers 5= Much better than most workers (they are very safe) 11) How do the Hispanic workers respond to directives to perform tasks? 1= Mu ch worse than other workers (t hey seldom understand directives) 2= Not as good as other workers 3= The same as other workers 4= Better than most workers 5= Much better than most workers (t hey have a can do attitude) 12) How often have you asked someone to translate for you on your project? never seldom sometimes often very often 13) What language do you use when you speak to the Hispanic workers on your project? English English mixed with Spanish Broken Spanish Spanish 14) How important is it for you to improve your communication skills with the Hispanic workers on your project? really not important important neutral important really important

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69 15) How important is it to receive Spanish trai ning that is focused only on construction? really not important important neutral important really important 16) Did you ever work as a foreman? yes no: years 17) How long have you been a constructi on superintendent? years 18) What is the highest level of edu cation you completed? 1= elementary school 2= middle school 3= technical school 4= high school 5= some college 6= college 19) What do you consider to be your main problem (s) on the job site as th ey relate to Hispanic workers? communication tardiness cultural differences taking risks other 20) In your experience, what is the best way to mitigate the language barrier with Hispanic workers? 21) Many people have said that the construc tion industry will fold if all undocumented immigrants went back to their home countri es. How many workers on your job might be undocumented immigrants? 22) Do you know the OSHA recordable injury rate for your project? yes no If no, do you know the IR? If no, approximately how many worker injuries have occurred on this project that required the treatment of a physician? injuries

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70 LIST OF REFERENCES Adrian J, James (2004). Construction pr oductivity: Measurement and improvement. Champaign, Illinois: Stipes Publishing. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 2003a. Nationa l census of fatal occupa tional injuries in 2003. Retrieved September 11, 2006 from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/forbrn.nrO.htm Brunette J, Maria (2005). Development of ed ucational and training materials on safety and health. Family Community Health 28(3), 253-256 Brunette J Maria (2004). Constr uction safety in the United Stat es: Targeting the Hispanic workforce: Injury Prevention. 10, 244-248 Crockett, Roger O (2004). Why are Latinos l eading blacks in the job market? Business Week 387(4), 70 Escobar, Jennifer (2006). Managing Hispanic construction workers. Unpublished thesis, University of Florida, Gainesville Fl Gonzalez, Ricardo. Five critical training need s for Hispanic employees. National Driller (2006); 27(7), 60-62. Hinze, Jimmie and Gordon, Francine (1979), Supervis or-worker relationship a ffects injury rate. Journal of the Construction Division, ASCE, 105, 253-262. Marin, Marcelo (2003) Training Hisp anic construction workers in Fl orida. Unpublished thesis, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl Maynard F, Nigel. A solid footi ng. Retrieved September 11, 2006 from: www.builderonline.com Nations Building News Online (200 6, May 6). Immigrants help to fill U.S. construction labor shortages. Retrieved January 9 ,2007 from http://www.nbnews.com Ostle, Bernard and Linda Malone (1988). Statis tics in research Ames,Iowa: Iowa State University. Pierce F. David. Low English proficiency and in creased injury rates. Professional Safety. (2003): (40-45) Romero, Eric J. (2004). Hispan ic identity and acculturation: Implications for management. Cross Cultural Management, (11): 62-71 The Student Bible (1999) Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan Publishing.

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71 Vazquez, Vanessa. (2005). Developing an effec tive construction training program for American supervisors with Hispanic craft workers. Fina l report, Iowa State University, Ames, Ia.

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72 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Alexander C. Curry was born on January 27, 1981 in Orlando, Florida. He has one older brother and one younger brother. He received his high school diploma from Countryside High in 1999. He received his Asso ciate of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida in 2002; that same year he moved to Tallahassee and enrolled at Florida State University. In 2004, he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In 2005, he moved to Gainesville and was accepted into the graduate program of the M.E. Rinker, Sr., School of Building Constructi on at the University of Florida, to pursue a Master of Science of Building Construction.


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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0020860/00001

Material Information

Title: Interaction between Construction Superintendent and Hispanic Workers
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0020860:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0020860/00001

Material Information

Title: Interaction between Construction Superintendent and Hispanic Workers
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0020860:00001


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Full Text





INTERACTION BETWEEN CONSTRUCTION SUPERINTENDENT AND HISPANIC
WORKERS




















By

ALEXANDER C. CURRY


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE INT BUILDING CONSTRUCTION

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2007




































O 2007 Alexander C. Curry


































To my mother









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to express my gratitude to my committee members, Dr. Jimmie Hinze, Dr.

Robert Stroh, and Dr. Eshter Obonyo for their guidance and support. Dr Hinze provided vision,

feedback, editorial suggestions, and assistance with structure. Dr. Robert Stroh provided

feedback and guidance on conducting statistical tests. Dr. Esther Obonyo inspired me to write a

thesis instead of a report. I would like to thank Eric Anderson and Brittany Johnson for their

help in obtaining surveys. I would like to thank Ken Booth for his technical support.

I would like to thank my parents for their unconditional love and support. They also

brought me into existence, so for that I am for ever grateful. I would also like to thank my

girlfriend Amanda and her dog Sam for bringing j oy into my life. And, finally, I would like to

thank Dottie Beaupied for being the best administrator that I have ever dealt with.

This research represents a huge milestone in my academic career, and I could not have

reached it without the help of those listed above.











TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............. ...............4.....


LIST OF TABLES ................ ...............7............ ....

LIST OF FIGURES .............. ...............8.....

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............11.......... ......


Integration of Hispanics in the U. S. Economy ................. ... ........... .... ........... .... 1
Causes for growth of Hispanic Workforce in the U. S. Construction Industry ................... .... 12
Traits of the Hispanic Workforce in the U. S. Construction Industry ................ ........._......12
Purpose and Obj ectives of Research ................. ...............13...............

2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................. ...............15................


Hispanic Workforce and the U. S. Construction Industry ................. ............... ........._....15
Challenges of Managing a Hispanic Workforce in the Construction Industry ................... ....15
Supervisor-Worker Relationship and its affects on Construction Safety ............... .... ...........16
Injuries and Fatalities among the Hispanic Workforce in the Construction Industry ............17
Background of Hispanic Workers ............ ........... ...............18......
Educational Background .............. .. .. .......... ..... ........1
Economic and Occupational Background of Hispanic Workers ................. ................. 19
Cultural Background ............... ..... .. .. ... .. ... .... ..... .......2
Relationship between English Proficiency and Injury Rates of Hispanic Workforce in
the Construction Industry ................. ...............21................
Communication and Productivity ................. ...............22................

3 METHODOLOGY .............. ...............25....

Introducti on ................. ........... ...............25.......
Rationale for the Research ................. ...............25................
Source of Data ................. .......................... .................. ...............26
Method for Data Collection ................. ...............27................
Data Analysis............... ...............28

4 DATA AN ALY SIS AND RE SULT S .............. ...............3 0....


Introducti on ............... .... ......... ...............30.......
Size of Company and Proj ects .................. .... ....... ..... ........ ....... .......3
Spanish Language Course Exposure and Its Impact on the Respondents ................... ...........32
General Educational and Professional Background of the Respondents ............... ... ............3 5
Respondent' s Experiences and Perspectives on Working with Hispanic Workers ................36












Safety Performance on Respondent' s Proj ects ......__....._.__._ ......._._. ..........3
Summary of Results............... ...............4

5 CONCLUSIONS .............. ...............61....


6 RECOMENDATIONS .............. ...............63....


Recommendations for the Construction Industry ................. ...............63........... ...
Recommendations for Future Studies............... ...............63


APPENDIX


A SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE COVER LETTER ................. ...............65........... ...

B SURVEY FOR SUPERINTENDENTS .............. ...............67....


LIST OF REFERENCES ................. ...............70........... ....


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............. ...............72....










LIST OF TABLES


Table page

4-1 Proj ect Relationship between the total number of workers and the number of
Hispanic workers .............. ...............44....

4-2 Relationship of taking Spanish as a second language (SSL) course and annual
income volume of company ................. ...............45.......... .....

4-3 Relationship between whether or not the respondent had a Spanish as a second
language course (SSL) and how important it is to improve their communication skills
with Hispanic workers (N=30) .............. ...............50....

4-4 Relationship between Respondent' s exposure to Spanish language courses and their
interest to take Spanish as a second language course (SSL) focused only on
con strcti on................. ...............51..._._ ._......

4-5 Relationship between whether or not Superintendent had taken a Spanish as a second
language course(SSL) and their perception of Hispanic workers' performance
compared to the performance non-Hispanic workers .............. ...............57....

4-6 Relationship between what Language that Superintendents use when communicating
with Hispanic workers and the respondent' s exposure to Spanish as a second
language course (SSL .............. ...............59....










LIST OF FIGURES


Figure page

4-1 Annual volume of income .........__._.......__. ...............43...

4-2 Average number of non-Hispanic and Hispanic workers on proj ects .............. ..... ........._.43

4-3 Estimation of percentage of undocumented Hispanic workers among Hispanic
workers overall on the proj ect ................. ...............44......_.__...

4-4 Respondents that have or have not had a Spanish class............... ...............45.

4-5 Hours of Spanish language instruction that respondents had taken ................. ................46

4-6 Respondents that had a Spanish language course after high school .............. .................46

4-7 Respondents that had a Spanish language course related to construction .........................47

4-8 Usefulness of Spanish language courses on the construction site .............. ...................48

4-9 How well the Spanish language courses met respondent' s needs and expectations. .........48

4-10 Difficulty of Spanish language course that had been taken ................. ............ .........49

4-11 Respondents that would or would not take a Spanish class ................. ............ .........49

4-12 Rating of the importance of improving communication skills with Hispanic workers
(N=3 0) ................. ...............50.................

4-14 Highest levels of education completed by respondents ......... ................ ...............52

4-15 Respondents that worked as a foreman............... ...............52

4-16 Number of years that each respondent worked as a foreman ................. .....................53

4-17 Number of years that each respondent has been a superintendent (N=3 0) ................... .....53

4-18 Number of years that each superintendent has supervised Hispanic workers (N=30) ......54

4-19 Respondents that have someone on site to help them communicate with Hispanic
workers ................. ...............54.................

4-20 Frequency that superintendent used someone to help them communicate with
Hispanic workers on their proj ect (N=3 0) ................ ...............55..............

4-21 Respondent' s knowledge of Hispanic culture ................. ...............56..............











4-22 Respondent' s description of the performance of Hispanic workers compared to Non-
Hispanic workers .............. ...............57....

4-23 Respondent' s description of the safety practices of Hispanic workers. ................... ..........58

4-26 what respondents consider to be the main problems that relate to Hispanic workers
(N = 29) ................ ...............60.......... ......

4-27 Respondent' s opinion on what is the best way to mitigate the language barrier. ..............60









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Building Construction

INTERACTION BETWEEN CONSTRUCTION SUPERINTENDENT AND
HISPANIC WORKERS

By

Alexander C Curry

May 2007

Chair: Jimmie Hinze
Cochair: Esther Obonyo
Major: Building Construction

While it is known that there is a steady growth of Hispanic workers throughout the U. S.

construction industry. The reasons that Hispanics have a higher incidence and fatality rate than

any other ethnic group are not known. Ultimately it is the superintendent' s responsibility to

make sure that all workers on site are carrying out work in a safe and effective manner. This

research analyzes the perspectives of non-Hispanic superintendents to determine if the language

and or cultural barrier between non-Hispanic superintendent and Hispanic worker is a cause for

the high incidence rate of Hispanic workers.









CHAPTER 1
INTTRODUCTION

"But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The

Lord said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this then nothing

they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come let us go down and confuse their language so

they will not understand each other (Genesis 11:5-11:6).

Integration of Hispanics in the U.S. Economy

The face of the workforce throughout many of the sectors in the U. S. economy is

undergoing a steady integration of immigrant and minority workers that have limited or no

English speaking skills. In addition many of these minorities and immigrants have different

cultural backgrounds. Both language and cultural differences have proven to be quite

challenging for several industries throughout the U.S. In order to address the challenges of a

foreign workforce, many industries hire bilingual workers to communicate with workers that

come from various backgrounds. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that one in four persons in

the United States will be of Hispanic origin by 2050, up from one in eight in 2002. Using U.S.

census survey data, Natalia Siniavksa, an NAHB economist, discovered the following facts

* Mexicans constitute 54 percent of the immigrant construction workforce, a clear maj ority.
An additional 25 percent come from other countries in the Americas.

* While only 4 percent of native born Americans work in the construction industry, 10
percent of immigrants from the Americas and 5 percent of European immigrants work in
construction.

* One out of every eight Mexicans currently works in the construction industry. Of the
Mexicans who have arrived in this country since 2000, 15 percent work in construction.

* More than one third of all construction workers are immigrants in California, Nevada,
Texas, Arizona, and the District of Columbia. They account for more than a quarter of the
construction workforce in New York, Florida, and New Jersey; and they are stepping up
their presence in such states as Colorado, Georgia, Illinois and North Carolina.










*Thirty two percent of the construction laborers are foreign-born. Laborers and carpenters
account for almost 30O of the overall U. S. construction employment.


Causes for growth of Hispanic Workforce in the U.S. Construction Industry

Possible causes for the growth of the Hispanic population in the U. S. are social and

economic instability in numerous Central and South American countries, legal migration

increases, higher fertility rates, and higher wages and growing employment opportunities in the

U.S. With an increased demand for labor and above average wages, the construction industry

has been attractive to Hispanic immigrants. Another factor that will lead to more Hispanics or at

least maintain the current number of Hispanics in the construction industry is President Bush' s

proposal to allow undocumented workers to keep their j obs and attain legal status. The

implications behind this proposal are profound. Not only could this lead to more Hispanics

entering the U.S. construction industry but it also means that the President believes Hispanic

immigrants play a crucial role in mitigating the labor shortages throughout the U.S. economy.

Other reasons for Hispanic immigrants entering the U.S. construction industry could be that

these j obs are attainable with little or no English proficiency skills and minimal or no education.

"In the United States construction has become the sector of the workforce with the highest

percentage of Hispanic workers outside of agriculture, more than tripling during the last two

decades "(Brunette 254).

Traits of the Hispanic Workforce in the U.S. Construction Industry

Although, the integration of Hispanic immigrants into the U. S. construction industry may

help meet the growing demand for labor in the construction industry, this is a double edged

sword because this transition to an international workforce on could be difficult for U. S.

construction companies. A recent study undertaken by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

found that although the fatal injury rate for non-Hispanic whites and African Americans in the










United States has steadily declined, it has actually increased for the Hispanic workforce in recent

years .

Fatalities among the Hispanic workforce remain high and they have the highest rate of fatal

work injuries among all racial/ethnic groups (Marin 3). "The St.Petersburg Times published an

article on April 8, 2002, entitled "Dangerous jobs take a toll on Hispanics." The article reported

that Hispanic workers across Florida and across the country are dying on the j ob at rates that

exceed their proportion of the workforce. Hispanic worker deaths more than doubled in Florida

between 1992 and 2000. The toll reached 75 in 2000, which was 23 percent of worker deaths

statewide, although Hispanic workers make up only 18 percent of the workforce "(Escobar, 3).

In addition, productivity in the field is not only reduced by injuries and fatalities but it is also

hindered by the language barrier and the lack of education and training among the Hispanic

workforce in the construction industry.

Purpose and Objectives of Research

The aim of this research has three obj ectives the first is to determine the gravity of the

problem in regards to managing a Hispanic workforce. The second is to test the null hypothesis

that a non-Hispanic superintendent's exposure to Spanish courses does not influence their

perspective on managing Hispanic workers. The third is to identify suggestions that will help

Non-Hispanic superintendents overcome this communication gap, thus utilizing the Hispanic

workforce in a safe and effective manner. In order for this research to successfully develop

helpful suggestions for non-Hispanic supervisors, it is necessary to assess the needs, interests,

and perspectives of predominantly Caucasian superintendents regarding the management of a

Hispanic workforce. \While some Caucasian supervisors readily embrace the culture of this

foreign workforce and make the effort to understand them, other Caucasian supervisors do not

make this effort. The latter may believe it is the responsibility of the Hispanic worker to adapt to









the American culture. This is not a matter of who should or who should not adapt. The reality is

that the construction industry could use the Hispanic workforce to meet the increasing demand

for labor. The suggestions provided by this research will serve as an aide for the non-Hispanic

contractor to be proactive and participate in the integration of the Hispanic culture into the

industry.









CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

Hispanic Workforce and the U.S. Construction Industry

With the baby boomer generation on its way out of construction for retirement, a declining

number of vocational programs in high schools, and a rapidly growing economy, the U. S.

economy is faced with a severe shortage of construction workers. With the supply of workers

diminishing and the demand for them increasing simultaneously, a daunting challenge is

presented for construction firms throughout the U.S. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that

Hispanics account for 22 % of the construction labor force in this country. According to a July

2006 article in the Builder, land development costs and material prices are spiraling out of

control. As result, labor is the only area of the construction equation where builders can apply

effective financial controls. One way to accomplish this is with cheaper labor. From this article,

it can be inferred that the influx of immigrants has kept labor prices from inflating as much as

they normally would. This awareness of a labor shortage has even reached the White House. In

2006, President Bush announced an immigration proposal which would allow undocumented

workers to keep their jobs and to attain to legal status. This proposal could ultimately alleviate

the construction industry's labor shortage. While labor prices may have been reduced, managing

Hispanic workers may prove to be a great challenge for the non-Hispanic supervisor..

Challenges of Managing a Hispanic Workforce in the Construction Industry

In order to assess this challenge, an lowa State University research team conducted a

survey of 38 American supervisors, who represented 14 Iowa construction companies. Sixty-six

percent of the survey participants worked in areas of heavy/highway construction and the

remaining 34% worked in areas related to general commercial construction. Results of the

survey confirm that communication is the main problem experienced by American supervisors at










the job site. It should also be noted that these survey results indicate that many American

supervisors also use or depend on a link-person (an individual who interprets directions or

instructions for the rest of the Hispanic crew) to communicate to the Hispanic workers. Research

Endings also showed that language differences adversely affected productivity and workplace

safety in the construction industry. As a result of these Eindings, the Department of Civil,

Construction and Environmental Engineering set out to develop Spanish as a second language

course (SSL) for Caucasian supervisors. The intent of this course was to assist non-Hispanic

supervisors in developing the ability to communicate in Spanish, thus diminishing the need of a

link person to assign daily tasks to Spanish workers. According to this study, improved

communication channels between non-Hispanic supervisors and Hispanic workers will

strengthen the supervisor-worker relationship, resulting in increased work productivity and

quality and a reduction of fatalities on the j ob site.

Supervisor-Worker Relationship and its affects on Construction Safety

Dr. Jimmie Hinze (1979) reported on a study on the supervisor worker relationship and its

affects on the injury rate on jobsites. Instead of examining the physical environment and how it

affects the safety of a worker on the j obsite, Dr. Hinze's study examined the supervisor' s

management philosophy and how it affected the safety performance of construction workers.

Two different studies with two different populations showed similar results. One population

consisted of top managers from utility contracting firms from nine different metropolitan areas

throughout the United States. The other population was a large petrochemical contractor in the

in the Gulf Coast region.

Both studies involved the same method of gathering data, multiple superintendents on

various proj ects were asked to answer a set of interview questions. Ultimately the purpose of

these questions was to determine how the superintendent's would handle certain hypothetical









situations. For instance, the superintendent was asked how they handle problems that occur

between a foreman and a worker. Another situation was where a worker had recently been

promoted to foreman and was having trouble adjusting to the responsibilities and challenges that

pertained to the new position. Whatever the situation was that presented to the superintendent in

the study, the superintendent undertook one of two different strategies, one strategy would be a

rigid and more structured approach when dealing with subordinate problems and the other

approach would be to handle the situation with sensitivity and flexibility. Both studies showed

that superintendents that listened to subordinates and sought a solution based on circumstances

and not principle or rigid policy, had significantly lower worker injury rates in comparison with

superintendents that applied a more rigid policy toward problems with subordinates.

It was concluded from the study that workers that feel valued have better safety performances.

Although that study did not involve Hispanic workers, it did illustrate the significance of

the relationship between superintendent and worker. In order to be flexible, superintendents

must be able to understand what is going on with their subordinates. How is this flexibility

possible if the superintendent does not understand what the Hispanic worker is trying to say or

suggest regarding a problem? It is not realistic to expect a non-Hispanic superintendent to learn

Spanish but it is realistic to expect a non-Hispanic superintendent to make efforts to

communicate to Hispanic workers in their language because this instills the thought that the

Hispanic worker is valuable and this awareness of being valued could ultimately lead to an

improved safety performance.

Injuries and Fatalities among the Hispanic Workforce in the Construction Industry

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanic construction workers have the

highest rate of fatal work injuries (4.5/100,000 Hispanic workers) the highest fatality rate of

ethnic groups in the construction industry. "In general, Hispanic workers come to the United









States with a poor understanding of health and safety and little or no experience with

governmental enforcement of safety regulations. Working conditions in their countries of origin

also influence the Hispanic worker' s level of safety awareness. Such conditions include working

in unsafe physical environments; little or no safety and health training; being exposed to

dangerous tools, machines, and equipment; abusive supervisors; lack of appropriate personal

protective equipment and others"( Brunette 2004 p.258). Brunette also states that on average,

Hispanic immigrants have lower levels of formal education than other groups. Fifty six percent

have completed fewer than 12 years of school, and over half report speaking English not well or

not at all. This could indicate that Hispanic workers may not have the literacy skills to grasp

concepts that stem from traditional safety training. Verbal reinforcement in safety training from

a supervisor may be necessary.

Background of Hispanic Workers

In order to become effective at managing someone, it is necessary to understand their way

of doing things. What traits does this person share with their ethnic group or fellow country

men? These traits may help identify how they perceive their work, their boss, their co-workers,

themselves in relation to the proj ect, their personal life, etc. In order to achieve this kind of

understanding of a subordinate, one may not only need a basic understanding of their language

but in addition a basic understanding of their educational, occupational, economic and cultural

background. The following are some factors that should be considered when it comes to

managing a Hispanic workforce.

Educational Background

"In 2000 it was estimated that a total of seven million undocumented immigrants entered

the United States and almost 70 percent of them are Mexican foreign-born. For the estimated

number of foreign-born Mexicans who illegally entered the United States, the median









educational level was about eigth grade"(Vasquez 2005 p.15). This means that the majority of

the Hispanic immigrants are limited to jobs that do not require a high school diploma. The main

concern in regards to education is literacy skills among Hispanic immigrants. If an Hispanic

cannot read then written signs that display directions for certain procedures or awareness of

certain hazards are useless to an illiterate Hispanic. This makes verbal communication much

more important because it may be the only way to manage some Hispanic workers.

Economic and Occupational Background of Hispanic Workers

Hispanic workers may be accustomed to a different safety culture in their home countries.

"In general Hispanic workers come to the United States with a poor understanding of health and

safety, little or no participation in building, little or no governmental enforcement of safety

regulations. Work related experiences may also play a role in this lack of safety awareness.

These experiences may be working under poor physical environments, little or no safety and

health training, being exposed to dangerous tools, machines and equipment, abusive supervisors

and lack of appropriate personal protective equipment"( Brunette 2004 p.5). This may lead

Hispanic workers to believe that they are dispensable and this attitude may carry over to the U.S.

In addition, illegal immigrants will generally be willing to work for less pay and work in the

most dangerous industries as long as they do not lose their j obs (Crockett 2004 p.70). Work

related experiences and lack of safety enforcement are not the only factors that may condition

Hispanic workers to behave a certain way on the j ob site. Other factors may be economic in

nature. For example it may be very competitive to obtain j obs in Latin American countries.

"Employers in Latin American countries often threaten to fire workers if they complain about

organizational treatment and working conditions. In Latin America, Hispanic workers are taught

to be thankful for their j obs. Seventeen million Latin American people are out of work as the

unemployment rate in the region has shot up to its highest level since 1980. They are expected










to get the j ob done quickly, and move on to the next j ob. They receive little or no moral support

from their employers (Marin 2002 p.16).

Cultural Background

"The Hispanic culture is considered to a collectivist culture instead of the individualist

ways that resonates through out the culture of the United States. One that follows a collectivist

culture would generally have tendencies of being high in uncertainty avoidance and distance

from superiors (Romero 2004 p.63). Members of a collectivist culture prefer to engage in group

activities. More specifically, Hispanics will look after the group's interests rather than individual

interests. The Hispanic culture also has a greater power distance, as there is much greater

distance between the powerful and powerless. Leaders are viewed as absolute authority figures

that delegate and rarely use teams, and they (leaders) are regarded with much respect. Hispanic

subordinates rarely question or oppose figures of authority. This is due to their desire to avoid

uncertainty. Hispanics find that it is better to remain silent to keep their j ob than report possible

job site hazards or incidents that could create negative opinions from their employer. This

characteristic could lead to more risk taking activities among the Hispanic workers on site

(Vasquez 2005 16).

Another culture related concept that may influence both the work and safety performance

of a Hispanic construction worker is "machisimo". This is a term that identifies the masculinity

of the typical Hispanic worker. Machismo can have a negative effect on a Hispanic worker

because this can make one feel like they must prove their manhood to themselves and others

around them. This can lead to reckless or unsafe behavior on the jobsite. Examples of

machisimo at its worst would be a Hispanic worker refusing to wear personal protective

equipment because it may be perceived as not being manly or another example would be if an

Hispanic worker refused medical attention for a new injury that may need it. "The one-sided,









violent view of machisimo is reinforced as much by the American culture as by Hispanic

tradition, and may have the effect of encouraging Hispanic men to fit the violent, controlling

image of masculinity portrayed by Hollywood" (Marin 2002 pl7).

Relationship between English Proficiency and Injury Rates of Hispanic Workforce in the
Construction Industry

"The language barrier is one of the maj or factors behind the death rate among Hispanic

workers. For instance in regards to traditional safety training, the transmission method is used to

deliver it. Generally, in this method the trainer attempts to transmit the information to the

student where the student is expected to receive, understand, and use the information. Also, the

transmission method presumes a level of education on the past of the recipient that may not be

the case for Hispanics. Transmission breaks down when there exists a language barrier and, in

cases where the training including written instruction is provided in Spanish, the information

may not be clearly understood due to literacy skills among Hispanics. The inability to

communicate effectively can place Hispanic workers and their English speaking coworkers in

unsafe situations that can be prevented with appropriate training. In order to define the

relationship between a language barrier and injury rates, F. David Pierce conducted a case study

on a company to determine if low English proficiency and an increase in injury rates were based

on a causal or an associated relationship. With a transition to a predominately non-English

speaking workforce, "A company experienced increases in injury rates among both non- and

limited English speaking workers. Statistics showed that these workers were experiencing a

higher percentage of injuries. Based on statistical inference of causality, the company launched

an aggressive effort to increase English skills among its workers, deducing that this would help

lower the injury rates" (Pierce 2003 p.41). In addition to rising injury rates; quality of work,

performance of work, and worker utilization continued to erode. Initially the, firm in that case










study decided that taking "a fix the workers approach" would work. This method proved to be

unsuccessful and eventually the firm took a new approach in addressing this problem.

According to Pierce, the firm implemented a new systems strategy plan. The results of this new

approach proved to be satisfactory.

Communication and Productivity

Many non-Hispanic speaking superintendents may rely on a link-person for

communication with their Hispanic speaking workers or they (superintendents) may attempt to

communicate with Hispanic subordinates themselves by using non-verbal communication

including instance the use of visual aides, hand gestures, or mimicking activities. While this

form of communication may work in a simple task or scenario such as asking for a hammer, this

form of communication could be much less effective for something like telling a worker to make

sure to drill holes in the exact center of certain wall studs to run wiring. The problem with this

kind of communication is that it may leave directives or instructions unclear between the

Hispanic worker and the non-Hispanic superintendent. The Hispanic workers may nod their

heads to indicate that they understand and then proceed to carry out a task in the incorrect

manner which could lead to injury, work that must be redone, loss of productivity, or several

other complications. Clarity is crucial in communication between non- superintendents and

Hispanic workers. Clarity may be achieved with the aide of a link person but this inevitably

creates a dependence on that link person. This could lead to complications. For instance, a non-

Hispanic superintendent may want give directives to a Hispanic laborer but is unable to make

these directives because the person to translate the information one is not available. In such a

situation productivity is halted until effective communication is made. This kind of complication

is unacceptable on the jobsite. There are enough challenges already for a non-Hispanic

superintendent.









Job site studies have shown that between forty and sixty percent of a typical construction

work day is spent on non-productive efforts. Non productive time can be defined as time

associated with workers waiting for instructions, doing redo work, waiting due to lack of proper

supervision, etc "(Adrian 2004 p.85). "Hundreds of millions of dollars of non-productive work

are performed each year that can be traced to poor communications. Feedback from

subordinates is an important factor when managing them. This will certainly be lacking if the

superintendent does not understand what the Hispanic worker is trying to say. Perhaps the

worker may have a useful suggestion that could make a process more efficient or perhaps there is

a problem that the superintendent is unaware of. In addition, the fact that the worker may be

always told what to do rather than asked for ideas can lead to a worker attitude that may prove

counter productive"(Adrian 2004 p.87).

Communication is crucial to all aspects on the job site. Communicating to a worker is by

no means one way. "Effective communication entails listening as well as talking. All too often

the supervisor only talks at the workers instead of asking the worker for ideas or listening to his

concerns"(Adrian 2004 p.92). In addition differences in education/experience and site

conditions make effective communication difficult enough between supervisor and worker. This

communication problem discussed by Adrian does not include the challenge of a language

barrier between Hispanic worker and non-Hispanic supervisor.

Adrian developed a ten step program for improving construction productivity. The scope

of this paper does not discuss all ten of them but in fact only two of them. One step is improved

communications. This step was already discussed above. The other step is productivity

improvement through safety. "Regardless of the reasons for the many construction accidents that

occur at job sites, the fact remains that they have an adverse affect on construction productivity.









In addition to the detrimental effect of the injury for the worker himself, accidents are likely to

cause low worker morale, work disruptions related to identifying the cause of accident and

higher insurance premiums" (Adrian 2004 p.98).









CHAPTER 3
IVETHODOLOGY

Introduction

The United States Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that 16 percent of

the workforce within the United States construction industry is Hispanic and that Hispanic

workers are more likely to suffer work-related injuries than any other ethnic group. This may be

explained, in part by the communications and cultural barrier that exists between non-Hispanic

superintendent and Hispanic worker. The objective of this research is to identify techniques and

practices that will help non-Hispanic superintendents overcome this communication gap, thus

utilizing the Hispanic workforce in a safe and effective manner. In order to identify these

techniques and practices to mitigate the cultural and language barrier, this research evaluated the

Non-Hispanic superintendent' s perspective on the Hispanic workforce.

Rationale for the Research

The rationale behind this research was to get a representative sample of the non-Hispanic

superintendents within Florida. This sample was to enable some insight in regards to the high

rate of fatal and non-fatal injuries among the Hispanic population and also methods used to

prevent these incidents. In addition this sample of non-Hispanic superintendents would provide

some insight on the gravity of challenge of managing Hispanic workers and possibly ways to

improve the integration of the Hispanic workforce within the U. S. construction industry.

The obj ectives of this research were the following;

* To gather background, personal, and demographic information on the Hispanic population
on job sites.

* To determine how much of an impact the cultural and language barrier has on the safety
and productivity of the j ob site.

* To identify the non-Hispanic superintendent' s position in regards to mitigating the cultural
and language differences of the Hispanic workforce.










* To determine the non-Hispanic superintendent' s attitude concerning the performance of the
Hispanic workforce on the job site.

* To test the null hypothesis that a non-Hispanic superintendent' s exposure to Spanish
courses influences their perspective on managing Hispanic workers.

Source of Data

In order to accomplish the obj ectives mentioned above it was necessary to develop a

survey. The first step that was taken towards the development of the survey was to look at other

surveys that used to conduct a similar study. This research looked at one of the surveys used to

aide in the development of an effective construction training program for non-Hispanic

supervisors with Hispanic craft workers, this research was conducted at lowa State University.

The second step in the development of the survey for this research was to extract questions from

the Iowa State University survey that were considered relevant to this research and develop a

survey from those questions that were extracted. The third step in the development of this

survey was to carry out several revisions of the survey under development. During the third

stage of development, some questions extracted from the Iowa State Study were kept in this

survey and others were removed and replaced by other questions that were created from

discussions between the principal investigator and the chair of this research in regards to the

objectives of this research. This survey has gone through numerous revisions before we

Einalized and submitted it to the IRB (International Review Board) for approval. Each survey

was filled out during the phone interviews or on site interviews. In other words the survey acted

as a guide for questioning the participant during the phone or on site interview. The survey

consists of 22 questions. These questions were broken down into the following categories.

* Gross volume of the construction firm.
* Demographics of workers on current proj ect (subcontractors, Hispanics, etc.)
* Amount of exposure to Spanish language courses.
* General attitudes toward working with Hispanic workers.










* Experiences and developed methods from managing Hispanic workers.
* General educational and work background.
* Information on injury rates on current proj ect

The sample population of respondents consisted of 2 superintendents from 15 different

construction firms that operate in Florida, thus a total of 30 superintendents were interviewed.

When it was necessary to determine sample size, the number 30 was established as the sample

size with a confidence of 90%. "Most texts talk of large sample approximations, and they

generally interpret "large" as meaning n_>30 (Ostle & Malone 126)". Points of contact for the

15 different companies were established at the University of Florida' s Building Construction Fall

Career Fair of 2006. Companies were selected due to their willingness to participate in this

study and their operations in Florida. This willingness to participate was based on impressions

from proj ect managers and marketing or human resource people from various companies at the

career fair.

Method for Data Collection

It was determined that phone interviews would be the most efficient way to obtain data

from the superintendents. This logic was based on the method of data collection that would be

most successful. For example a lower level of involvement by this researcher would be if the

researcher would send out surveys in the mail thus completely relying on the respondent to both

fill out the survey and return it. This splits the data generation and collection process thus

reducing the likelihood of data retrieval and analysis in a timely manner for this study. The

highest level of involvement would be through onsite interviews; this would be the best method

for collecting data. Because of financial and time constraints that this study faced, it was decided

to collect data by phone interviews. Even though this method is not as involved as on site

interviews, it would still enable both data generation and collection to occur simultaneously thus









making this process streamlined. The goal was to obtain the participation of 15 different

construction firms in addition each construction firm was to provide access to two

superintendents that would participate in the study. Thus it was necessary obtain participation

from thirty superintendents

Even though the initial goal was to conduct interviews with representatives from 15

companies at the career fair, instead phone interviews were using points of contact from the fall

2006 career fair. This deficiency in survey data was primarily due to difficulties resulting from

the reluctance of some superintendent' s/company's to participate in telephone interviews. As a

result, other measures for collecting data were taken. The revised method to data collection

involved the assistance of a day labor recruiter in the central Florida area. This day labor

recruiter would recruit temporary (day) labor for several construction sites throughout central

Florida. As a result of the day labor recruiter' s day to day communications with various

superintendents, the day labor recruiter had little difficulty in obtaining data from 10 different

companies in the central Florida area by distributing the telephone interview surveys to their j ob

superintendents. Two superintendents from each of these ten companies participated in this

study. In other words the day labor recruiter was able to obtain 20 surveys that represented the

involvement of ten companies in this study. In the end data were obtained from 30 different

superintendents' that represented 15 different construction companies in the Florida area. Ten

surveys were obtained from the principal investigator through phone interviews and 20 surveys

were obtained from the day labor recruiter through questionnaires that were distributed to

superintendents.

Data Analysis

The data that were collected from these phone interviews and mailed surveys was entered

in Microsoft Excel, to develop both standard charts and contingency tables so the data could be










processed, illustrated, and analyzed. The purpose of the analysis was to identify the existence of

any relationships between the superintendent' s exposure to Spanish courses and their perspective

on managing Hispanic workers, In addition, this analysis aimed to provide descriptive

characteristics of both the Hispanic population in the workforce and the superintendents that

manage them. Finally this analysis was intended to shed some light on the magnitude of the

cultural and language barrier between Hispanic workers and non-Hispanic superintendents.










CHAPTER 4
DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Introduction

Data collected from this survey served as the foundation for this research. All of the

surveys were received from the sample population. The null hypothesis was that a

Superintendent' s exposure to a Spanish as second language (SSL) course did not influence their

perspective on managing Hispanic workers. To test this hypothesis, the sample population was

divided into those superintendents that had taken a Spanish as a second language course (SSL)

and those superintendents that had not taken a Spanish as a second language course. Some of the

survey questions were relevant to determining the superintendent's perspective on Hispanic

workers. The responses that were considered relevant to testing the null hypothesis were placed

in a Chi-square mode to compare the response of the superintendents that had and had not taken

a Spanish language course. To test other relationships, the Chi-square test was also conducted

on other responses that did not pertain to testing the null hypothesis. Chi-square tests that were

conducted on any question in this study sought relationships that had a confidence of 95% or

more.

Size of Company and Projects

One characteristic that was used to determine the size of each construction firm that

participated in this study was to look at their gross annual volume. The annual dollar volume of

work of the respondents is displayed in Figure 4-1. Eighteen of the 30 respondents worked for

construction firms that performed over 100 million dollars of work per year. Six of the 30

respondents worked for company's that generated 1 to 20 million dollars of work per year.

These six companies were considered to be small while the 18 respondents that generated over









100 million dollars of work were considered large. The remainder of the respondents was placed

in the category of medium sized construction firms (Figure 4-1).

In order to obtain demographic information about the Hispanic population of the work

force within in the construction industry, this research obtained an estimate of the total number

of workers on each of the respondent' s j obsites and an estimate of a number of Hispanic workers

on the jobsite. This estimate of the number of workers included the subcontractors on the

project. In order to simplify the information presented the overall average of the number of

workers that ranged from small to large populations was compared with the overall average

number of Hispanic workers. Of the overall average of all workers on this chart is compared it

to the overall average of Hispanic workers on this chart, it is evident that roughly 61 percent of

all workers accounted for on this the chart are Hispanic. A Chi-square test was conducted to

determine if there is a relationship between the number of workers on each proj ect and

proportion of Hispanic workers on these proj ects. The results of the Chi-square test showed that

there was a relationship at a 95% confidence level ( Figure 4-2 and Table 4-1).

This research also attempted to obtain demographic information on the number of

undocumented Hispanic workers on projects. Because of the delicate nature of this issue,

responses should be regarded as estimates at best. Twenty four of the 30 superintendents

provided an estimate of the percentage of the Hispanic workers on these proj ects who are

undocumented. Because this topic could be considered controversial, this is possibly one reason

that this information was not provided by all 30 respondents. In order to determine if there was a

relationship between annual company volume and the number of undocumented Hispanic

workers, a Chi-square test was conducted. The results of the Chi-square test showed there was

not a significant relationship between the number of undocumented Hispanic workers and annual










company volume. In addition another Chi-square test was conducted to determine if there is a

relationship between the overall number of workers on each proj ect and the number of

undocumented workers. The results of this Chi-square test showed that there was not a

significant relationship between the number of workers on each proj ect and the number of

undocumented Hispanic workers on each proj ect ( Figure 4-3).

Spanish Language Course Exposure and Its Impact on the Respondents

Superintendents were asked if they had ever taken a Spanish class. In total 37 percent of

the respondents had some exposure to Spanish language courses and 63 %t of the respondents

had not had any exposure to such courses. A Chi-square test was conducted to determine if there

was a relationship between whether or not a superintendent had or not had taken a Spanish

language course and the number of workers on their proj ect. The results of this Chi-square test

showed that there was not a significant relationship. Another Chi-square test was conducted to

determine if there was a relationship between whether or not a superintendent had or had not

taken a Spanish course and the annual income volume of the company that the superintendent

worked for. The results of this Chi-square test showed that there is a significant relationship

with a confidence at 99.5 % ( Figure 4-4 and Table 4-2).

Figures 4-5 to 4-10 apply to the 11 (37%) of the respondents that had taken a Spanish

language course. In order to determine how many hours of experience respondents had with

Spanish language courses, this research obtained a breakdown in hours of experience among

respondents that have had Spanish language course. Of the 11 respondents that had taken

Spanish language course, results showed that 45 % had between 10 to 40 hrs and 55 % had more

than 40 hrs of Spanish language course. Since the sample size for their responses was eleven, no

statistical test was conducted ( Figure 4-5).










Six (55%) of the respondents that had taken a Spanish language course, had taken this

Spanish language course after High school. Taking post high school Spanish language course

may indicate some self interest on the part of respondents to learn about speaking or

understanding the Spanish language ( Figure 4-6).

In order to make a thorough assessment of the Spanish language course taken by the

respondents it was necessary to Eind out if the course taken were related to construction. Nine of

the 11 superintendents that had taken a Spanish course answered this question. Two of the nine

respondents stated that they had taken a Spanish course that was related to construction ( Figure

4-7).

To Eind out if their exposure to Spanish language courses was useful or helpful when it

came to actually managing Hispanic workers on the construction site, the superintendents were

asked how useful these Spanish language courses were on the construction site. Most of the

respondents stated that their experience with Spanish language courses was "average" or "good"

for managing Hispanic workers on the job site ( Figure 4-8).

Another concern of the research when it came to assessing Spanish language course taken

by the respondents was finding how well these courses fit their needs and expectations. This ties

in with how practical the Spanish language course were. If the respondents were able to apply

what they learned in the Spanish class on the jobsite, then this could mean that this course met

their needs or expectations. Seven of the 11 respondents stated that their experience with

Spanish language courses was average or better in terms of meeting their needs and expectations

( Figure 4-9).

Another question that was asked was about the level of difficulty of the Spanish language

courses that they had taken. Most (82%) of the respondents noted that the Spanish language









course was of average difficulty the remainder (18%) of the respondents noted that the Spanish

language courses were difficult. This could indicate that most superintendents have the aptitude

to learn some or all of the Spanish language ( Figure 4-10).

The next question was directed toward those respondents who had never taken a course in

Spanish. For 19 of the 30 respondents who had never had a Spanish course, a question was

asked if they had any interest in taking a Spanish course. Fifty eight percent of the respondents

stated that they were interested in taking a Spanish language course. A Chi-square test was

conducted on the responses to this question to determine if there was a relationship between a

superintendent' s interest in taking a Spanish language course and whether or not the

superintendent agreed or disagreed with the statement that Hispanic workers should learn

English if they want to work in the construction industry. The results of the Chi-square test

showed that there was no significant relationship between a superintendent's interest in taking a

Spanish course and whether or not they agreed or disagreed that Hispanic workers should learn

English if they want to work in construction ( Figure 4-11i).

In addition to asking the superintendents if they would or would not like to take a Spanish

class, they were asked if they considered improving communication capabilities with Hispanic

workers a priority. Based on the Chi-square test that was applied to their responses, it was

determined that there is a significant relationship at the 97.5 % confidence level, That is,

superintendents who have taken a Spanish language course also expressed a desire to improve

their communications with Hispanic workers. As a result of the Chi-square test, the null

hypothesis was rejected ( Figure 4-12 and Table 4-3). The null hypothesis was that a

superintendent' s exposure to Spanish as a second language course had no influence on how

important it is for them to improve their communication skills with Hispanic workers.









This research also wanted to determine if the superintendents had an interest in taking a

more streamlined Spanish language course focused only on construction. The development of

such a course is another issue. This question in the survey assumed that such a class existed and

that it was available to all respondents. A Chi-square test was conducted to test the null

hypothesis that a superintendent' s exposure to a Spanish course does not influence their interest

in taking a Spanish language course that is focused only on construction. The results of Chi-

square test showed that there is a statistically significant (p=.95) relationship between a

superintendent' s exposure to Spanish language course and their interest in taking Spanish

language courses focused only on construction. The findings from the Chi-square test reject the

null hypothesis. That is, the superintendent' s exposure to Spanish language courses does

influence their interest in taking a Spanish language course that focuses only on construction (

Figure 4-13 and Table 4-4).

General Educational and Professional Background of the Respondents

In order to determine the overall aptitude of the sample population to learn a foreign

language, the superintendents were asked the highest levels of education they had achieved.

About two -thirds of the population either had some college or obtained a bachelors degree from

a college. This may indicate that the superintendents prove the capabilities to learn another

language ( Figure 4-14).

Superintendents were asked about their professional background in the construction

industry. The first of these questions was if the superintendent every worked as a foreman. Over

two-thirds of the respondents had worked as a foreman ( Figure 4-15).

Another question went asked the superintendents who had worked as a foreman how many

years they had worked as foreman. About 40 percent of the superintendents had worked

between one and five years as a foreman. Eighteen of the twenty-three respondents that have









worked as a foreman answered this question. A Chi-square test was conducted to determine if

there was a relationship between the number of years of experience as a foreman and whether or

not the superintendent agreed or disagreed that Hispanic workers should learn English if they

want to work in construction. The results from the Chi-square test showed that there is not a

significant relationship between these variables ( Figure 4-16).

The superintendents were asked the number of years that each respondent worked as a

superintendent. The purpose of this question was to if there was a relationship between a

superintendent' s experience in the Hield and the attitude towards managing Hispanic workers.

For instance, superintendents that have many years of experience may have worked through

different times that may have influenced their perspective on Hispanic workers. Perhaps a

superintendent who is new to the industry or who is a recent graduate of college may have a

different view about Hispanic workers and be more open to new ideas. Roughly one third of the

respondents had one to Hyve years experience as a superintendent. A Chi-square test was

conducted to determine if there was a relationship between the respondent' s years of experience

as a superintendent and whether or not the respondent agreed or disagreed that Hispanic workers

should learn English if they want to work in construction. The analysis discloses not significant

relationship ( Figure 4-17).

Respondent's Experiences and Perspectives on Working with Hispanic Workers

Superintendents were asked about the number years that they had managed Hispanic

workers. Most (66%) of the superintendents had supervised Hispanic workers from one to

eleven years ( Figure 4-18). The superintendents were asked if they had someone on their job site

to help them communicate with Hispanic workers. Seventy percent of the respondents stated

that they had someone to help them communicate with Hispanic workers on their site. This

indicates that there was some dependence on translators for communication. Results of the Chi-










square test showed that there is no relationship between the superintendent' s exposure to Spanish

language classes and whether or not they have someone on site to help them communicate with

Hispanic workers ( Figure 4-19).

A related question was asked about the frequency with which assistance was needed by the

superintendents to help them communicate with Hispanic workers on site. Eighty percent of the

superintendents stated they "sometimes" to "very often" needed help when it came to

communicating with Hispanic workers on their proj ects. Further analysis showed that there was

no relationship between the superintendent's exposure to Spanish language courses and how

often they used someone to help them communicate with Hispanic workers on their proj ect (

Figure 4-20).

When it came to understanding the culture of Hispanic workers, roughly half of the

superintendents stated that they had an average understanding of Hispanic culture. This

development of understanding could have occurred through working with Hispanics on a day to

day basis. Further analysis showed no relationship between the superintendent' s exposure to

Spanish language courses and their knowledge of Hispanic culture ( Figure 4-21).

Superintendents were asked about the performance of Hispanic workers. Specifically they

how they thought the performance of Hispanic workers was compared to that of the performance

of non-Hispanic workers. Nearly half of the superintendents indicated that the level of

performance of Hispanic workers was about the same as non-Hispanic workers. Most of the

remaining superintendents felt that Hispanic workers were better performers than non-Hispanic

workers. A Chi-square test was conducted to determine if there was a relationship between

whether or not a superintendent has had or has not had a Spanish language course and how they

perceive the Hispanic workers' performance in comparison to the performance of non-Hispanic









workers. The results of the Chi-square test show that there is a significant relationship at the

97.5 % confidence level. That is, a superintendent's exposure to Spanish as a second language

course does influence their perception of managing Hispanic workers was rej ected ( Figure 4-22

and Table 4-5).

Superintendents were asked about the safety practices of Hispanic workers compared to

non-Hispanic workers. More than three fourths of the superintendents felt that Hispanic workers

were not as safe as the non-Hispanic worker. A Chi-square test was conducted to determine if

there was a relationship between whether or not a superintendent has had or has not had a

Spanish language course and how they perceived the safety practices of the Hispanic worker in

comparison to the safety practices of non-Hispanic workers. The results were not significant (

Figure 4-23).

To get a better understanding of the challenges that come with managing Hispanic

workers, superintendents were asked to state their perspective on how well Hispanic workers

respond to directives compared to non-Hispanic workers. Over 40 % of the superintendents felt

that Hispanic workers were about the same as non-Hispanics in following directives. The

remainder was split between Hispanics being better or worse than non-Hispanics with slightly

more indicating Hispanic workers were not as good ( Figure 4-24) further analysis showed no

relationship between whether or not a superintendent has had or has not had a Spanish language

course and how they perceive the s Hispanic worker' s ability to respond to directives in

comparison to the non-Hispanic worker's ability to respond to directives.

Superintendents were asked what language they used when they speaking with Hispanic

workers. Over half of the superintendents communicated with Hispanic workers in English and

the remainder communicated with Hispanic workers in an English/Spanish mix, broken Spanish,









and Spanish ( Figure 4-25). The results of Chi-square test showed that there is a significant

relationship at 99.5 % confidence, between a superintendent's exposure Spanish as a second

language course and what language they used when communicating with Hispanic workers (

Table 4-6).

Superintendents were asked to identify the greatest challenges associated with managing a

Hispanic workforce. The biggest problem noted by nearly 60 % of the superintendents was

"communication." Over thirty percent mentioned that Hispanic workers take risks. Further

analysis revealed no relationship between the type of problems and a superintendent' s exposure

to Spanish classes ( Figure 4-26)

Superintendents were asked to offer suggestions that might be useful to mitigate the

language barrier with Hispanic workers. Over forty percent stated that the use of a translator was

the best way to mitigate the language barrier. Other comments were that the Hispanic worker

should learn English or that superintendents should learn Spanish, or that demonstrations and

visual aides should be used ( Figure 4-27).

Safety Performance on Respondent's Projects

Superintendents were asked if they knew the OSHA recordable injury rate for their proj ect.

Almost two thirds of the respondents did not know the OSHA recordable injury rate for their

project. Of the twelve superintendents, eleven reported that they had incurred no injuries of their

proj ects. With only one superintendent reporting a recordable injury rate that was not zero.

Further analysis on the data appeared warranted. All though 18 superintendents did not know

their recordable injury rate

Then superintendents were asked to report the number of injuries that occurred on the proj ect.

Of these, twelve reported no injury, three reported one injury and two reported two injuries.









Summary of Results

Based on the analysis of the information that was obtained certain trends and observations

can be discovered. The Hispanic workers are clearly a significant population with in the

construction workforce. Trends show that as the worker population increased on each proj ect,

the proportion of the Hispanic workers also increased, i.e. larger proj ects had a larger proportion

of Hispanic workforce.

There is a significant relationship between a superintendent's exposure to a Spanish

language course and the annual volume of the company that they work for. Compared to

companies with annual volumes of less than $60 million, larger companies with annual volumes

>$61 million had a higher proportion of superintendents that had not taken a Spanish language

course. Of the thirty superintendents that were interviewed, eleven of them had some exposure

to Spanish as a second language course and nineteen of the superintendents had no exposure to

such courses. Six of the eleven respondents had taken this Spanish language course after high

school which may indicate that they were self motivated to take this course since college unlike

high school does not have a mandatory language requirement. Seven of the eleven respondents

that took a Spanish language class stated that the Spanish class was useful on the j ob. Of the 19

respondents that had not taken a Spanish class, eleven of them stated that they would like to take

a Spanish language course if given the chance.

When the thirty superintendents were asked if it was important to improve their

communication skills with Hispanic workers, 13 of them stated that it was important or really

important. On the other hand, nine stated that it was not important. The rest were neutral on the

subject. Evidently, superintendents that have had a Spanish language course appear to show a

greater interest in improving their communication skills than those superintendents that had not









taken a Spanish language course. Taking a Spanish language course does not influence a

superintendent' s interest in improving their communication skills with Hispanic workers.

There was limited support in taking a Spanish language course that was focused only on

construction, the superintendents who were in favor of taking a Spanish class with a focus on

construction were those who had already taken a Spanish class of some type. Most

superintendents agreed that Hispanic workers should learn English if they want to work in

construction. Nearly half of the superintendents felt that the best way to mitigate the language

barrier with Hispanic worker was through the use of a translator.

Communication problems are the main problems on the j ob site as they relate to Hispanic

workers. Risk taking by the Hispanic workers is also a problem that is of concern. Ultimately,

26 of the 30 respondents believed that risk taking and or communication has been the main

problem with the Hispanic workforce on the job site.

Most superintendents stated that Hispanic workers were good at responding to directives perform

tasks. When asked about the Hispanic worker' s job safety practices in comparison to the job

safety practices of non-Hispanic workers. Most respondents stated that the j ob safety practices of

Hispanic workers are worse than non-Hispanic workers. Most of the unfavorable comments

towards the safety practices of Hispanic workers came from superintendents that had taken a

Spanish course. This research is not able to explain this.

When asked about the performance of Hispanic workers compared to the performance of

non-Hispanic workers, 93 percent of the respondents stated that the performance of Hispanic

workers is the same or better than non-Hispanic workers. A superintendent' s exposure to

Spanish language courses influences their perspectives on the performance of Non-Hispanic

workers. All eleven of the superintendents that had a Spanish language course stated that










Hispanics workers were as good as or better performers than non-Hispanic workers. The

compiled data from this analysis indicate that the Hispanic population is a component of the

construction workforce in Florida. Most superintendents m satisfied with the productivity with

the Hispanic workforce. Poor safety practices appear to be a considerable concern regarding the

Hispanic workforce. .Regarding the language barrier, most superintendents agree that Hispanics

should learn English but in the meantime they m satisfied with having a translator as a way to

mitigate the language barrier with Hispanic workers.
















30

S25

O 1
15

10


1 to 20 21 to 40 41 to 60 61 to 80 81 to 100 > 100
Annual income volume in millions


Figure 4-1. Annual volume of income (N=30)


gNon-Hispanic
*_; Hispanic


1 to 21 to 41 to 61 to 81 to <
20 40 60 80 100 100

N um ber of non-His panic Workers and His panic workers



Figure 4-2. Average number of non-Hispanic and Hispanic workers on proj ects (N=30)










Table 4-1. Proj ect Relationship between the total number of workers and the number of Hispanic
workers (N=30)


small population
104
46
150


large population Total
308
209
517


Total number of workers
Number of Hispanic workers
Total

X2 Value
Critical value @ 95 percent
confidence @ 1 D.F.


4.68

3.84


20-



8C 15



2 10




3 3 3
2 2 2



0 1 to 11 to 21 to 31 to 41 to 51 to 61 to 71 to 81 to 90 to
10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
Pe rce nt of undocume nted work rs



Figure 4-3. Estimation of percentage of undocumented Hispanic workers among Hispanic
workers overall on the proj ect (N=22)











100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%


63c4o


37'' a


Figure 4-4. Respondents that have or have not had a Spanish class (N=30)


Table 4-2. Relationship of taking Spanish as a second language
volume of company (N=30)
Annual income volume of
company Had a SSL course Yes


(SSL) course and annual income


Small to medium annual
volume (millions)
large annual volume (millions)


total


< $ 60 million
2 $ 60 million


6 10
16 20

22 30


X2 V81Ue
Critical value @ .995
confidence @ 1 D.F.











100%
90%
80%
70% cco.
60%
45' o
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
Less than 10 hrs Between 10 and 40 hrs More than 40 hrs



Figure 4-5. Hours of Spanish languageintctothtrsndtsadakn(=1


100%
|90%
80%
70%

60%




40%



yes n



Figure 4-6. Respondents that had a Spanish language course after high school (N=11I)












100%

90%

80%-

70%-

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%-
yes n



Figure 4-7. Respondents that had a Spanish language coursereadtocnrcin(N9





50%

40%


30%

20%


10%


average good very good


0%
not at all poor


Figure 4-8. Usefulness of Spanish language courses on the construction site (N=11)


50%


40%


30%


20%


10%


0%


2--c's


not at all


very good


garage


good


Figure 4-9. How well the Spanish language courses met respondent' s needs and expectations
(N= 1 )











100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10% Oc.

0% ry easy



Figure 4-10. Difficulty








100%
90%
80%
70%-
60%-
50%-
40%-
30%
20%
10%
0%


easy average difficult wery difficulty


of Spanish language course that had been taken (N=11)


yes n


Figure 4- 11. Respondents that would or would not take a Spanish class (N=19)





















































5.440122708

5.02


50%

40%

30%

20%


10%

0%


27"00


300.0


2300


1300


7ou


really not not
important important


neutral important really
important


Figure 4-12. Rating of the importance of improving communication skills with Hispanic workers
(N= 3 0)




Table 4-3. Relationship between whether or not the respondent had a Spanish as a second
language course (SSL) and how important it is to improve their communication skills
with Hispanic workers (N=30)


Importance of Communication with
Hispanic workers
Has had a SSL course
Has not had a SSL course


Not important
4
15


Important Total # of responses
7 1


Total # of responses


X2 Value
Critical value @ 1D.F. @ .975
confidence










50%


40%-
3300


30% -2300


2000
20%-




11 .


really not not important neutral important really
important important


Figure 4-13. Level of importance for respondent' s to take Spanish language course focused only
on construction. (N= 30).

Table 4-4. Relationship between Respondent' s exposure to Spanish language courses and their
interest to take Spanish as a second language course (SSL) focused only on
construction (N=30).
Superintendent's interest in taking a Spanish Total # of
course focused only on construction. Not important Important responses
Has had a SSL course 6 5 11
Has not had a SSL course 17 2 19

Total # of responses 23 7 30

X2 Value 4.11
Critical Value @ .95 confidence interval @1
D.F. 3.84





50%


40%


30%


20%


10%


on


40"0


370:o


I I I
technical high school highschool some college college
school and tech
school


Figure 4-14. Highest levels of education completed by respondents (N=30)


100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%


Figure 4-15. Respondents that worked as a foreman (N=30)







































50% 1


40%


30% -


20%


10% -


0%


4000


1 30 0


1000


1< 1 to 5 6 to 10 11 to 16 17 to 22


Number of Years



Figure 4-17. Number of years that each respondent has been a superintendent (N=3 0)


100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50% .
3990
40%
30% -1 22?o0 1L b 17?o 11?o
20%
10% 0'00


1< 1 to 5 6 to 10 11 to 16 17 to 22 <22
Years as a foreman



Figure 4-16. Number of years that each respondent worked as a foreman (N=1 8)














50%


40%
3300 3300

30%

20%
700 1000
10%

0% r
1< 1 to 5 6 to 11 12 to 17 18 to 23 23
Number of years



Figure 4-18. Number of years that each superintendent has supervised Hispanic workers (N=30)



100%
90%
80% 73
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%-
yes no



Figure 4-19. Respondents that have someone on site to help them communicate with Hispanic
workers (N=30)

















100%

90%

80%

70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%


57c..c


20c..4


13')0


never seldom sometimes


very often


often


Figure 4-20. Frequency that superintendent used someone to help them communicate with
Hispanic workers on their proj ect (N=3 0)





60%


50%


40%



30%


20%


10%


0%


~ ):I


very weak


verywell


weak


okay


4-21. Respondent' s knowledge of Hispanic culture (N=3 0)











60%


50% _40c
40" i
40%


30%


20%


10%


0% 00
Much worse Not as good The same Better Much better
Performance compared to non-Hispanic workers


Figure 4-22. Respondent' s description of the performance of Hispanic workers compared to Non-
Hispanic workers (N=30)

Table 4-5. Relationship between whether or not Superintendent had taken a Spanish as a second
language course(SSL) and their perception of Hispanic workers' performance
compared to the performance non-Hispanic workers (N=30)
How Hispanic Workers Performed Total # of
compared to non-Hispanic workers Worse Better responses
Has had a SSL course 0 11 11
Has not had a SSL course 2 17 19

Total # of responses 2 28 30

X2Value 5.09
Critical Value@ 97.5% confidence@ 1
D.F. 5.02











60%


50%


40%


30%


20%




10%


3 0': :.


20'' .


H M M I

Much worse Not as good The same Better Much better
safety practices compared to non-Hispanic workers


Figure 4-23. Respondent' s description of the safety practices of Hispanic workers (N=3 0)


50%


40%


30%


20%


10%


0%


4300


2000


2000


Figure 4-24. Respondent's perspectives on how well Hispanic workers respond to directives
(N=3 0).


Much worse Not as good The same Better Much better
compared to other non-Hispanic workers












Table 4-6. Relationship between what Language that Superintendents use when communicating
with Hispanic workers and the respondent' s exposure to Spanish as a second
language course (SSL) (N=30).


Broken
Spanish or
Spanish


Language Superintendent used to
communicate with Hispanic workers
Has had a SSL course
Has not had a SSL course


English &
Spanish


English


Total
11
19


Total # of responses


7 30


X2 Value
Critical value @ .9995% confidence @
2 D.F.


16.51

15.2


100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
%


English English mixed Broken Spanish
with Spanish


Spanish


Figure 4-25. Language used by respondent when communicating with Hispanic workers (N=30)












13%


other



taking risks


cultural differences


211%


both communication
and taking risks


communication


59%


0% 20% 40% 60%


80% 100%


Figure 4-26. what respondents consider to be the main problems that relate to Hispanic workers
(N=29)






Demonstrations / Visuals 140 ,

Other11.

They should learn English 20

I should learn Spanish 1100

Use translator 4300.

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%


Figure 4-27. Respondent' s opinion on what is the best way to mitigate the language barrier
(N=28)









CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSION

With the face of the construction industry undergoing a steady transition towards a

predominantly Hispanic workforce, there is some concern on what challenges this will bring to a

non-Hispanic superintendent who is supposed to manage them. The research objective was to

find out what qualities were necessary for a superintendent to have in order to effectively

manage a Hispanic workforce that has a different language and comes from a different culture.

Initially the position of this research was that if a superintendent had some exposure to Spanish

language courses then they would get better productivity and better safety practices from a

Hispanic workforce than a superintendent that has not had any exposure to Spanish language

courses.

The findings from this research show that a non- Hispanic superintendent' s exposure to

Spanish language courses has minimal impact on productivity or safety. All though other studies

have indicated injuries or loss of productivity are problems that are associated with a language

barrier. Most non-Hispanic superintendents rely on a translator for communication with

Hispanic workers. Relying on translators appears to be an adequate approach to managing a

Hispanic workforce. Non-Hispanic superintendents that rely on translators for communication

still get productivity from Hispanic workers that is generally equal to or better than productivity

from non-Hispanic workers. Although most of the Hispanic workers were considered equal to or

better in productivity when compared to non-Hispanic workers, the Hispanic workforce was

considered to have much worse safety practices when compared to non-Hispanic workers. This

study and other studies have indicated that Hispanic workers have poor safety practices.

This research does not assert that the language barrier is not significant when regarding

injury rates and productivity on job sites. Instead this research asserts that the cultural barrier










appears to play a bigger role in injury rates and productivity on job sites. It is concluded from

this study that the cause of poor safety practices among Hispanic workers is not from the

language barrier but it is from misuse of the translator on the j ob site and cultural differences

between Hispanic worker and the non-Hispanic superintendent.









CHAPTER 6
RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendations for the Construction Industry

It was concluded that misuse of the translator on the j ob site and cultural differences

between a non-Hispanic superintendent and a Hispanic worker were factors that led to poor

safety practices among Hispanic workers. Misuse of the translator occurs when the

superintendent has not fully utilized the translator. The translator should not only be used for

giving directives but the translator should be used to instill value in the Hispanic worker. Studies

have shown that workers that feel valued by their supervisors generally have better safety

practices. Non-Hispanic superintendents can instill value in Hispanic workers by making it clear

through the translator that the Hispanic worker' s feedback is important, that this worker' s safety

is more important than the job or company or that this worker is a very important investment to

the company. These things can instill value in a worker thus improving the safety practices of

this worker. Finally the non-Hispanic superintendent should use the translator to learn as much

as they can about the ways, perspectives or culture of the Hispanic workers.

Recommendations for Future Studies

Additional research on this topic is warranted. For example, one approach would be to

utilize the AGC (American General Contractors) database and randomly select about 500

companies throughout Florida. Then this research suggests that one should contact these

companies and randomly select about two Hispanic workers from each company. These workers

would then be surveyed. The survey should be designed to find out cultural issues of the

Hispanic workers. For instance the survey could ask the workers about their responses to

hypothetical situations. That is they would be given an order to carry out in unsafe conditions to

determine how important their views are in comparison to the company or their superiors.










Another possible survey question could ask about the worker' s thought on death, God, or

masculinity. The purpose of the survey should be to identify cultural issues that could be causes

for poor safety practices. From there one could determine ways to correct these cultural issues

thus improving the safety practices of Hispanic workers.









APPENDIX A
SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE COVER LETTER

Statement to be Read to Participants



October 1, 2006



To: Potential Study Participants



Subj ect: Examination of Construction Superintendent Perspective concerning Hispanic

workers



We, the M. E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction at the University of Florida, are

conducting a study in the state of Florida on safety among Hispanic workers. The focus of the

study is to assess the various aspects of the construction environment that may impact the

productivity and safety performances of Hispanic workers.



The study will be conducted through personal interviews in which a variety of questions

will be asked about your background, your experience in the construction industry, and your

relationship with your employer. There are no risks associated with participating in this study

and the interview can be completed in about ten minutes. Naturally, you are asked to answer

only those questions that you feel comfortable in answering. We regret that there are no direct

benefits or compensation to you for participating in this study.









Your individual responses will be kept strictly confidential to the extent provided by law.

Research data will be summarized so that the identity of individual participants will be

concealed. You have my sincere thanks for participating in the valuable study.



Additional Content information will be provided:


Alex Curry

Research Assistant

Phone: (727) 871-4452



Jimmie Hinze

Ph.D., Professor

Phone: (352) 273-1167


Email: acc@ufl.edu








Email: hinze@ufl.edu


P.S. For information about participant rights, please contact the University of Florida

Institutional Review Board at (3 52) 392-0433 or Email: IRB2@ufl.edu.









APPENDIX B
SURVEY FOR SUPERINTENDENTS



1) What is the approximate annual volume of your company? $ million


2) How many workers are on your proj ect (including employees of subcontractors?)

workers

2A) How many of the workers are Hispanic?


3) Have you ever taken a course to help you learn Spanish? O yes O no
(If No, go to question 4)

(If Yes, answer the following questions)

3A) How many total hours of training have you had in Spanish? hrs

3B) Did you take this class after you graduated from high school? O yes O no

3C) Was this Spanish course related to construction? Oyes Ono

3D) How well were you able to use this information on the job

0not at all I poor I average O good O very good

3E) How well did the Spanish course meet your needs and expectations?

Snot at all I poor I average O good O very good

3F) How would you rate the degree of dimfculty of the Spanish class?

Very easy Ieasy I average O dimfcult 0 very dimfcult

(Go to question 5)

4) If No, would you like to take a Spanish class? O yes O no

5) Consider this statement. "Hispanic workers should be required to learn English if they want
to work in construction. What is your reaction to this statement?

Comments :










6) How long have you supervised proj ects with Hispanic workers in the workforce?
yrs.

7) Do you have someone to help you communicate with Hispanic workers on your proj ect?
Syes 0 no

8) How well do you understand the culture of Hispanic workers?

Very weak I weak I okay I well O very well

9) How do you describe the overall performance of Hispanic workers?

1= Much worse than other workers
2= Not as good as other workers
3= The same as other workers
4= Better than most workers
5= Much better than most workers

10) How would you describe the j ob safety practices of Hispanic workers?

1= Much worse than other workers (they take many risks)
2= Not as good as other workers
3= The same as other workers
4= Better than most workers
5= Much better than most workers (they are very safe)

11) How do the Hispanic workers respond to directives to perform tasks?

1= Much worse than other workers (they seldom understand directives)
2= Not as good as other workers
3= The same as other workers
4= Better than most workers
5= Much better than most workers (they have a "can do" attitude)

12) How often have you asked someone to translate for you on your proj ect?

Never I seldom O sometimes I often 0 very often

13) What language do you use when you speak to the Hispanic workers on your project?

SEnglish I English mixed with Spanish I Broken Spanish I Spanish

14) How important is it for you to improve your communication skills with the Hispanic
workers on your proj ect?

Really not important I important I neutral I important I really important












15) How important is it to receive Spanish training that is focused only on construction?

Really not important I important I neutral I important I really important

16) Did you ever work as a foreman? O yes O no: years

17) How long have you been a construction superintendent? years

18) What is the highest level of education you completed?

1= elementary school
2= middle school
3= technical school
4= high school
5= some college
6= college

19) What do you consider to be your main problems) on the job site as they relate to Hispanic
workers?

0 communication I tardiness I cultural differences I taking risks

Other


20) In your experience, what is the best way to mitigate the language barrier with Hispanic
workers?


21) Many people have said that the construction industry will fold if all undocumented
immigrants went back to their home countries. How many workers on your j ob might be
undocumented immigrants?


22) Do you know the OSHA recordable injury rate for your project? O yes O no

If no, do you know the IR?


If no, approximately how many worker injuries have occurred on this project that
required the treatment of a physician? injuries









LIST OF REFERENCES


Adrian J, James (2004). Construction productivity: Measurement and improvement.
Champaign, Illinois: Stipes Publishing.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 2003a. National census of fatal occupational injuries in 2003.
Retrieved September 11, 2006 from http ://www.bls.gov/news.release/forbrn.nrO.ht

Brunette J, Maria (2005). Development of educational and training materials on safety and
health. Family Community Health. 28(3), 253-256

Brunette J Maria (2004). Construction safety in the United States: Targeting the Hispanic
workforce: Injury Prevention. 10, 244-248

Crockett, Roger O (2004). Why are Latinos leading blacks in the job market? Business Week.
387(4), 70

Escobar, Jennifer (2006). Managing Hispanic construction workers. Unpublished thesis,
University of Florida, Gainesville ,FI

Gonzalez, Ricardo. Five critical training needs for Hispanic employees. National Driller.
(2006); 27(7), 60-62.

Hinze, Jimmie and Gordon, Francine (1979), Supervisor-worker relationship affects injury rate.
Journal of the Construction Division, ASCE, 105, 253-262.

Marin, Marcelo (2003) Training Hispanic construction workers in Florida. Unpublished thesis,
University of Florida, Gainesville, FI

Maynard F, Nigel. A solid footing. Retrieved September 11, 2006 from:
www. builderonline. com

Nation's Building News Online (2006, May 6). Immigrants help to fill U.S. construction labor
shortages. Retrieved January 9 ,2007 from http://www.nbnews. com

Ostle, Bernard and Linda Malone (1988). Statistics in research Ames,Iowa: Iowa State
University .

Pierce F. David. Low English proficiency and increased injury rates. Professional Safety.
(2003): (40-45)

Romero, Eric J. (2004). Hispanic identity and acculturation: Implications for management.
Cross Cultural Management, (11): 62-71

The Student Bible (1999) Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan Publishing.










Vazquez, Vanessa. (2005). Developing an effective construction training program for American
supervisors with Hispanic craft workers. Final report, Iowa State University, Ames, la.









BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Alexander C. Curry was born on January 27, 1981 in Orlando, Florida. He has one

older brother and one younger brother. He received his high school diploma from

Countryside High in 1999. He received his Associate of Arts degree from the University

of Central Florida in 2002; that same year, he moved to Tallahassee and enrolled at

Florida State University. In 2004, he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In 2005,

he moved to Gainesville and was accepted into the graduate program of the M.E. Rinker,

Sr., School of Building Construction at the University of Florida, to pursue a Master of

Science of Building Construction.