We have previously discussed the fact that construction is one of the most dangerous American occupations. Construction workers complete astounding, necessary work on a daily basis, all while understanding that they are at a higher risk of injury and death on the job than most other workers. There are numerous occupational hazards that threaten the safety of all construction workers in New York. However, one group of workers is far more likely to be involved in fatal construction accidents than others and this reality needs to change immediately.
According to a recent review completed by safety experts at the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), only four in ten construction workers occupied in New York City identify as “Latino and/or immigrant.” However, members of this group account for a staggering three out of every four construction-related fall deaths in the city.
There are numerous reasons why this disturbing trend is evolving in the ways that it is. For example, according to a study by the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, small, non-union contractors are both more likely to hire Latino immigrant day laborers and are more likely to be found in violation of safety regulations. It is possible that these contractors are less safety-minded or simply do not take the time to ensure that their workers understand safety trainings and materials. When a language barrier exists, accommodations should be made to ensure that workers understand how to keep themselves safe.
The new OSHA study clearly indicates that NYC Latino and immigrant populations are uniquely vulnerable to construction accident fatality risks at this point in time. This issue must be addressed immediately and adequately so that these workers have a better chance at remaining safe on the job.
Source: New York Daily News, “Latino, immigrant construction workers more likely to die on job in NYC: Study,” Erica Pearson, Oct. 24, 2013