Latino construction workers sustain more injuries than other workers

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Latinos will make up nearly 20 percent of the entire labor force in this country by 2020. According to a study published in February, Hispanic workers suffer much higher rates of injuries and deaths at the workplace than their non-Hispanic coworkers.The research also studied the difference between foreign- and native-born Hispanic workers and found that those who immigrated to America suffered higher levels of catastrophic injuries and work-related deaths than those who were born in the U.S. The discrepancy includes such reasons as:

  • Language barriers — not understanding instructions or safety rules
  • Lower literacy rates among foreign-born workers
  • Cultural differences
  • Higher need for employment
  • Fear of voicing concerns because of immigration status
  • Willingness to take more risks than coworkers

Employers may not address or recognize the differences and may not properly explain safety rules and techniques in a way that foreign-born workers understand. This is especially important in the construction industry. A high number of Hispanics work in construction and the study shows a disproportionately high number of construction injuries and deaths among that population.

Liability for construction injuries and deaths

When a construction worker is injured or killed in the workplace, there may be a number of responsible parties from whom relief is available. Typically, there is a general contractor in charge of the worksite. Sub-contractors, suppliers and the owner of the property or project are usually involved as well. If an injury or death is caused by a defective product, the manufacturer of the product may also be to blame.

New York has some of the best labor safety laws in the nation, particularly when it comes to elevated construction activities. The New York Scaffold Law holds owners or general contractors strictly liable for failing to protect workers by providing legally required safety equipment and training. Workers often do as they are told by superiors too avoid losing their jobs and some employers have been known to order workers to perform unsafe work at extreme heights.

Employers are usually obligated to provide insurance coverage and many employees have rights to workers compensation coverage for workplace injuries. OSHA — the Occupational Safety and Health Act — also applies numerous safety regulations on employers, especially in the construction industry. Failure to comply with these rules and regulations exposes employers to significant fines but, despite the legal requirements, some fail to provide adequate safeguards and safety equipment for their workers and accidents occur.

Help is available

It is important for injured workers and the families of those who die because of workplace injuries to obtain assistance from someone who speaks their primary language. If you or a loved are injured in an accident, consult a Spanish-speaking lawyer who is experienced with personal injury accidents. A knowledgeable attorney can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.

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