Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

DWC to hold Spanish Language Seminars

The California Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) has begun to conduct free Spanish-language seminars on workers' compensation benefits and laws. The seminars are set up for workers that have recently filed a workers' compensation claim with their employer, but according to the DWC any employee can benefit from attending these seminars and anyone can attend.

At these free, one-hour workshops, attendees will learn about their rights to medical treatment, disability payments, return to work after an injury and how to resolve disagreements over a claim. The workshops consist of a presentation followed by a question and answer session.

The DWC provides the following information concerning the seminars:

-- Members of the news media are invited to attend. Spanish-speaking Workers' Compensation representatives will be available for interviews.

-- Injured workers can call 1-800-736-7401 and press 2 to get workshop and other Workers' Compensation information in Spanish.

*Note* This author called the toll free number and would rate the automated service as “Poor”. When calling the toll free number one reaches an English speaking operator and is then prompted to “Press 2” for Spanish. One would think that the DWC could provide a Spanish speaking operator for a toll free number that is intended to reach out to "Spanish" speaking workers. The automated system requires the caller to listen to as many as 7 options, navigate a series of prompts and be prepared to write down addresses and telephone number, because at no time can you reach a live operator, you can only receive information, leave a comment concerning the service, obtain telephone numbers for field offices, but need to hang up and call a redial those numbers.

The automated system could easily be made far more useful if callers were asked to press “0” to speak to a live operator at which time the can be prompted to enter their Zip Code and be connected to the Information and Assistance office that has jurisdiction over their claim. To it's credit he automated service does reqquire the caller to punch in their Zip Code to identify the office that services their area and does provide them with the address and phone number to that office. In my opinion the service falls short because it would simply be easier to route the call to the appropriate office for handling by the Information and Assistance officers, that will eventually field the workers inquiries. Overall, in its present state I doubt that the automated system will be utilized by any significant number of Spanish speaking workers, due to it's difficulty to navigate and therefore will have limited success in reaching much of the Spanish speaking workers in the community.

-- Flyers for the workshop can be downloaded in Spanish and English from Click on the link that says, "Injured on the job? Need to know your rights?" at the top of the page

-- Spanish and English-language workshop posters are also available from the Division of Workers' Compensation by calling 510.286.7076.

Background information

The workshops will be provided in series of Spanish-language workshops which will be held around the state. The division is partnering with Cal/OSHA, the state's occupational safety and health agency, and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to choose locations and inform workers about the workshops.

The DWC Acting Administrative Director, Carrie Nevans states, "We want to locate those workers most likely to be injured on the job so we can help them understand their rights," She added, "Coordinating with Cal/OSHA and DLSE helps accomplish this because they have extensive experience with high-hazard industries, the underground economy and receive complaints about substandard working conditions."

Conducting workshops for injured workers in Spanish is one of the DWC's first steps towards creating greater access to information about workers' compensation for all California's wage earners. It will be interesting to see the level of success the DWC will have in their outreach efforts to Spanish speaking workers.

This author plans to attend one of the future workshops and also to speak with the Administrative Director, Carrie Nevans office to address their success with these workshops, in terms of attendance and usefulness to Spanish speaking workers. A follow up report will be posted to this blog within the next month.

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