The Cost of Injuries in the Workforce among Limited English Proficient Employees

construction-1218349_960_720There are an estimated 53,000 workplace fatalities each year and 427,000 non-fatal workplace illnesses.  My purpose for this post is to make the case that investing in safety and language services can result in great value and savings in the long run.


How much does a work injury cost you? Nationwide, the average direct cost of an injury is around $38,000. The indirect cost is four times higher. This means that an average United State workplace injury can be estimated to cost $190,000 per person.



The average construction slip and fall is $58,869. By doing the math, this represents $235,476 in indirect costs, for a grand total of $294,345. Three hundred thousand dollars could bankrupt a small business, which is why workers’ compensation insurance is so expensive.


The estimates indicate that that Latino laborers comprise about 15% of the construction workforce and is much higher in some industries. In 2013, the Monthly Labor Review published some interesting findings. Out of an estimated 14 percent Hispanic workforce, they accounted for 34 percent of fatal injuries.


The number of injuries occurring among the Hispanic population is severely disproportionate to its size.  Most foreign-born Latinos have little or no understanding of English.  They are deprived of safety training when they sit through English sessions.  Often, they are given safety videos to watch in their own language. Although this option is inexpensive and seems better than doing nothing, it is akin to placing a Band-Aid® on a gunshot wound.  Typically, videos are ineffective in truly motivating them to safety action.


According to The National Safety Council, companies that participate in voluntary safety programs decrease claims by 52 percent.  The average claim amount also decreases by 80 percent.  Why? Because in addition to reducing the number of injuries, the injuries that do take place are generally less severe.


Alfonso Interpreting has assisted businesses with limited English proficient employees in a few ways. Our Authorized OSHA® Outreach Trainer is fluent and both English and Spanish.  Additionally, our trainer’s experience with Latino culture has resulted in effective teaching methods. This allows our trainer to collaborate with companies that already have established safety programs or to create one for your business. This eliminates the need for an interpreter.


The second method is utilizing highly proficient and experienced simultaneous interpreters for languages other than Spanish (LOTS). The benefit of this interpreting mode is that employees receive the information in a very engaging and efficient manner and meeting times are dramatically reduced.  By quickly returning all your employees to work, you gain substantial monetary savings for your company.


The reduction of just one workers’ comp injury averaging $38,000 in direct cost would more than pay for your investment in language and safety and result in a huge savings!

The next safety post will discuss how workers’ compensation carriers charge according to the number of injuries.

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