Immigrant worker fatalities from violence

Frances Schreiberg of Kazan, McClain, Abrams, Fernandez, Lyons, Farrise & Greenwood, an Oakland-based law firm, alerted me to a Chicago Tribune article focusing on the higher murder fatality rate among immigrant workers, and the need to protections for taxi drivers and retail workers. Jason Barab’s Confined Space is another source of information about immigrant worker deaths. I have previously posted an entry about Asian worker deaths on the job.
A Chicago Tribune analysis shows that in 2005, when foreign-born workers made up 15 percent of the nation’s workforce, 188 were murdered on the job, accounting for more than a third of the 564 workplace homicides, the highest ratio since the government began keeping track in 1992.
Much of this loss of life can be avoided with measures that are both well-known and not costly, experts say. But protecting cab drivers and store clerks hasn’t been as big a priority as saving lives on the factory floor, they add.
“This is a terrible thing and it is fixable,” says Rosemary Sokas, a workplace safety expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former official at the research arm of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
A $500 plastic shield that separates taxi drivers from passengers can save countless drivers’ lives, say experts like Sokas.
Between 1992 and 2005, the latest year for which statistics are available, 3,040 foreign-born workers were murdered on the job, according to government figures. Most of the victims were Mexicans, but the workplace homicide rates were the highest among immigrants from India, Cuba, Korea and Vietnam.
In 1998, OSHA published guidelines for late night retail workers, that included such recommendations as physical barriers (such as bulletproof enclosures), pass-through windows in late night retail, or deep service counters, alarm systems and panic buttons, elevated vantage points, clear visibility of service and cash register areas, bright and effective lighting, adequate staffing, arranging furniture to prevent entrapment and cash-handling controls, such as using drop safes.
Unfortunately, OSHA does not cite employes for not following the guidelines. In fact, OSHA rarely even investigates workplace homicides, especially in retail establishments. Large corporate chains generally follow the guidance, but not other stores.