Although the total number of workers killed in this country while on the job has declined, the number of Hispanic workers killed in the workplace shot up 76% between 1992 and 2007, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1992, the number of Hispanics killed was 533; in 2007, it was 937. The total went down in that time from 6,217 to 5,657.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been investigating many of these deaths, including three workers who fell 11 stories when a scaffolding collapsed in Austin, Texas. Austin has already reported four Hispanic workplace deaths this year, and OSHA has promised to increase its number of safety inspectors in Texas as a measure against further accidents.
“I am particularly concerned about our Hispanic workforce, as Latinos often work low-wage jobs and are more susceptible to injuries in the workplace than other workers,” U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told USA TODAY. “There can be no excuses for negligence in protecting workers, not even a language barrier.”
Workers without legal documentation to be in the U.S. are less inclined to join a union, which helps protect workers, or protest when conditions seem dangerous, said Raj Nayak of the California-based National Employment of Law Project. “They’re doing the most dangerous work for longer hours,” Nayak said. –USA TODAY
Labor advocates are right in arguing that a great number of these fatalities could have been prevented among Hispanics if more appropriate training measures were in place. Whether a worker is here legally or illegally, companies need to ensure that everyone on their sites is receiving adequate safety and job training. Companies who hire illegal workers also need to be made responsible if those workers get injured or killed on their job sites due to substandard safety training or regulations.
If you or a family member has been injured on a job site, contact The Ferrara Law Firm to find out more about your right to compensation.