Construction fatalities fall on immigrant workers

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) issued a report on Monday, ” The Price of Life: 2015 Report on Construction Fatalities in NYC.” A passage in the report addressed the burden on Hispanic and immigrant workers:

Latino and immigrant workers deal with disproportionate deadly risks in construction.

Latinos make up 25 percent of NYS construction workers, but represented 38 percent of construction fatalities in New York in 2012. Nationally, Latino construction fatalities increased from 182 in 2010 to 233 in 2013.

A study of the medical records of 7,000 U.S. Latino construction workers found that they were 30 percent more likely than white non-Latino workers to be injured on the job. Several studies have shown that lack of training is one reason for the higher injury rates of Latino construction workers.

In addition, many New York construction workers are non-citizens, according to the U.S. Census’s American Community Survey, including 40 percent of New York’s 124,240 construction laborers, 36 percent of the 7,710 drywall installers, 28 percent of the 10,405 roofers and 25 percent of the 88,475 carpenters. They, too, are less likely to receive safety training.

People of color and immigrant construction workers are more likely to work off the books, to be misclassified as independent contractors, to work as day laborers, or to have limited English proficiency that does not often include technical terms, and therefore are less likely to receive safety training.

Eighty percent of immigrant workers in construction are Latino. A Center for Popular Democracy report finding showed that 60% of New York construction fall fatalities OSHA investigated from 2003 to 2011 were Latino and or immigrant. In addition, non-unionized contractors are less likely to provide safe work conditions, OSHA training and safety equipment.

Undocumented workers are less likely to refuse to work in hazardous conditions or speak up for better health and safety conditions for fear they will be fired or deported. In-depth information on all cases is difficult to come by, as many fatalities are announced prior to names being released, and there are no follow-up media reports.




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