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Latinos injured or killed in the construction industry

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction accident fatalities disproportionately involved Latino workers between 2010 and 2013. This is concerning since there has been a declining number of fatalities among all other construction workers. In fact, the number of Latino fatalities within the industry has been increasing during those years.

The assistant vice president of labor, safety, and health policy for the National Association of Home Builders was aware of this trend. "There's been a lot of discussion recently, within the last five to eight years, about the Hispanic or the Latino worker possibly facing greater risks in construction for an accident or injury," he stated.

There are differing theories on why this is occurring. One idea is that large portions of Hispanic workers never belonged to a work culture that emphasized safety. Others feel the high fatality rate is due to a lack of training for Latino construction workers conducted in the Spanish language. Though federal laws require training materials be provided in language understandable to the worker, there are not enough OSHA officials to monitor construction sites to make certain there is compliance with all of the rules. Also, of existing OSHA officials there may be a shortage of ones who speak Spanish.

Latinos heavily represent the construction workforce. Though they account for 16 percent of the population, they made up about 27 percent of the construction workers in 2014. Many Latinos appear to view the construction trade as a means for joining the middle class. Due to our large Latino population, the need for worker safety for Latinos in the construction industry appears to be particularly applicable to California.

Construction sites already are a dangerous place for many workers. We owe them a duty of safety. For workers injured or killed, they or their family members could benefit in speaking to experienced workers' compensation attorneys to find out their legal options.

Source: Construction Dive, "Latino worker fatality rate climbs, industry at odds over solutions," Emily Peiffer, April 8, 2015

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