Labour laws in the United States of America are less protective than the norms of most countries, including Brazilian ones. However, there is a strong militant movement for occupational safety and health in USA, organised in an articulated network that includes university professors and students, trade unionists, community leaders, public agents and various sectors workers.
The successful experience of the social activism of the Committees on Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) groups, which have been advocating for the safety and health of workers in the United States for 45 years, deserves propagation and study because it can inspire similar initiatives in Brazil and in other countries.
This exploratory research collected data through open interviews with workers, lawyers, teachers, researchers and activists heard between October/2013 and March/2014, as well as directed observation and interviews made during three events held in Boston and Baltimore (COSH Network, APHA 2013 and National Worker Safety and Health Conference).
The results show that COSHs are alliances that promote education and advocacy for workers’ health and safety. They articulate a national agenda to improve health and safety conditions for immigrant workers under the prevention bias, providing information and support in Spanish and other languages, as well as advocating for just compensation for workers who are ill or injured at work. They also carry out activities to integrate health and safety activism into organised campaigns, as well as advocate for the respect of existing health and safety laws and fight for new protections for workers.