Working on a construction site is inherently dangerous. However, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), U.S. born and immigrant Latinos are in more danger than any other race in the country to die in a construction accident.
- · Hispanics and Latinos made up 75 percent of all deaths due to construction accidents, from 2003 – 2011.
- · In New York, where 41 percent of construction workers identified themselves as Latino on the most recent census, 74 percent of all construction accident fatalities involved a Latino worker.
This represents a highly disproportionate fatality rate among one of the largest and fastest growing minority groups in the country. It also begs the question: why? What puts Latino-Americans and immigrant workers at such a high risk of personal injury and fatality?
Advocates of construction safety claim that many of the safety violations are at smaller construction companies, without unions. This is where many immigrant construction workers are employed. Construction safety advocates also claimed that many undocumented workers are hesitant to report any safety violations for fear that they will lose their jobs, and be unable to secure another one without proper documentation.
Perhaps since there’s no threat of union action and little threat of workers filing complaints, contractors are failing to take all safety precautions required by OSHA. They are cutting corners when it comes to providing the proper equipment, training and precautionary measures.
Even further, many construction workers (documented or not) do not fully understand their rights and the obligations of their employers. This leads to employees not speaking up when conditions appear to be unsafe.
The best thing to do to help reverse this trend may be to strengthen the effectiveness of OSHA, which employs approximately 2,200 inspectors. They are responsible for the safety of over 130 million workers, at more than eight million sites across the country. That breaks down to one inspector for every 59,000 workers. According to the Center for Popular Democracy, it would currently take OSHA 107 years to inspect every worksite in New York, just once.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a construction accident, contact Team Law today to discuss your case. Call at 732-388-5454 or toll-free at 1-800-TEAM-LAW.