By Jeff Alfonso
The latest research from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that in 2016, Hispanics comprised 30% of the United State construction workforce. There are over 10 million construction workers nationwide; 3 million of them are Hispanic construction. In 2015, there were 353 fatal falls to a lower level in construction 136 of those deaths were Hispanic with a much higher percentage of injuries than the percentage of workers. This is a matter of grave concern for our community that requires urgent attention! Why are Hispanic workers at greater risk of accidents and injuries?
Here are some reasons
- Language: Many have limited English proficiency (LEP) skills to comprehend and feel motivated by safety instructions
- Culture: Most perceive themselves as outsiders, believe safety doesn’t apply to them, or that the employer views them as expendable
- Rights: Laws exist to protect workers; they think they are powerless
- Training: Statistics demonstrate that Hispanics are given the most dangerous jobs with the least amount of training.
- There was a 26.1% increase of fatalities among construction workers from 2011-2015
- From 2014-2015 there was 28.3% increase in death among Hispanics (increase in Hispanic deaths are rising faster than the rest of the population)
- Non-fatal fall injuries in construction for 2015 were 23,860 (40 injuries per 100,000)
These are alarming statistics! Where can you find help and resources? What rights do workers have under the law? How can language problems be overcome? What evidence is there that employers really do care about your safety? What training is available to help reduce risk and injuries? How much money does worker injuries impact the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance premiums? What are the cost and hidden cost of injuries in the workplace? Stay tuned for future articles.