Higher Work Injury And Death Rates For Latino And Immigrant Workers

For those who work in the construction industry, grueling manual labor is an expected part of the workday. However, no one goes to work expecting to be seriously injured, or worse, to lose their life before the end of their shift.

In the Metro New York area, the vast amount of construction happening on a daily basis results in high numbers of workplace injuries and fatal workplace accidents. The New York Daily News has reported on disproportionate figures between a study by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and census numbers. While the census indicates that only 41 percent of construction workers in nearby New York City identify themselves as Latino, a study by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, using data from 2003 to 2011, indicated that 74 percent of construction workers who were victims of fatal falls on the job, identify themselves as Latinos or immigrants. A representative from the Center for Popular Democracy expresses concern over the figures, seeking to explain the reasons that Latinos and immigrants are dying on the job at higher numbers than others.

The study came about after a series of deadly falls happened in the New York City area in 2011. The incidents included the collapse of a floor which crushed a man pouring concrete, a shifting floor of a warehouse which caused the death of a man who fell while removing pipe, and a live electrical wire which claimed the life of a man who accidentally came into contact with it before falling through the ceiling of a building and dropping to his death 92 feet below. When the incidents were investigated further, they all had certain things in common: multiple workplace safety violations, and a box on a form checked, indicating that the worker was identified as “Latino and/or immigrant.”

The report indicates workplace injuries are more common with smaller contracting companies, that are not associated with unions. These companies are often more likely to hire day laborers from immigrant communities, and in turn, do not always provide the training and safety equipment that is required by law. Furthermore, the study indicates that immigrant workers, usually working as day laborers are less likely to report workplace injuries and safety hazards on the job, because they fear being told to leave without being paid, or from losing the opportunity for long-term work. Similarly, the results suggest that Latinos and immigrant workers may be performing certain tasks on the job that are particularly dangerous.

For workers who are not American citizens, a work-related injury may seem like the least of their problems. Many who define themselves as “immigrants” fear that they will be deported if they report unsafe conditions at work, or an injury experienced in the workplace. However, courts have held that denying wage-replacement benefits, including workers’ compensation would not deter undocumented aliens from obtaining employment under the Immigration Reform and Control Act.

For any injured worker, it is vital that you seek the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, to assist you in obtaining all of the benefits you are entitled to under the law. If you are unsure as to whether you would qualify for benefits, or another form of legal recovery, contact an attorney today for a confidential consultation.