A study that is scheduled to be released tomorrow reports a very disturbing trend: Although only 41 percent of New York City construction workers identify as Latino and/or immigrant, Latinos and immigrants are the victims of 74 percent of fatal falls on construction sites. The Center for Popular Democracy arrived at this statistic after studying accident investigations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The disproportionate injury risk that Latino and immigrant workers face on the job is analyzed in the organization’s report, “Fatal Inequality: workplace safety eludes construction workers of color in New York state.”
According to the report, things are even worse in Brooklyn and Queens. During the years studied, 2003 to 2011, 87 to 88 percent of the victims of fatal worksite falls in Brooklyn and Queens were Latinos and/or immigrants.
The report comes at an interesting time, as the construction and real estate industries are currently calling for reforms to New York’s scaffold law, which has been on the books since the 1880s. Under the law, contractors and owners face absolute liability for elevation-related injuries or fatalities.
Contractors say the law is causing liability insurance costs to skyrocket, while workplace safety advocates argue the law is necessary to encourage employers to keep jobsites as safe as possible.
Nonetheless, the Center for Popular Democracy has suggested that the contractors that hire a large number of immigrant workers in New York are ignoring safety regulations, and failing to provide adequate safety equipment and proper training.
As we have discussed in an earlier blog post, compounding the problem is the fact that immigrant workers may be hesitant to report safety hazards.
While this recent report is very troubling, it is important for construction workers to be aware that they do have a right to work on safe sites, with proper safety equipment. Those who suffer due to a fall or any other type of accident may be eligible for workers’ compensation and additional damages. In the aftermath of a workplace accident, it is important to seek legal counsel to learn about your rights.
Source: New York Daily News, “Latino, immigrant construction workers more likely to die on job in NYC: Study,” Erica Pearson, Oct. 24, 2013
Source: Huffington Post Latino Voices, “Latinos Make Up Majority Of Fatal Falls At New York Construction Sites,” Oct. 25, 2013