Why Do Hispanic Workers Suffer More Injuries?

“For much of the past two decades…the rate of work-related fatalities for Latinos has exceeded the rate for all U.S. workers, at times dramatically so.” This quote from the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) highlights the risks Hispanic workers in the Boston area face on a daily basis. Citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), NIOSH’s director, Dr. John Howard, went on to note that from 2003 to 2006 the death rate for Hispanic workers exceeded the national average by nearly 35 percent.

Conditions are Improving, But There is Still Work to Be Done

Fortunately, recent data suggest that the disparity is not as great as it used to be. In fact, the number of Hispanic workers who lost their lives in 2014 was lower than in 2013 – even though workplace fatalities among non-Hispanic white, African American, and Asian workers increased over this same period. However, Hispanic workers are still suffering serious and fatal injuries more often than workers from all other backgrounds, and 2014’s death toll was still among the highest in the last 10 years.

So, while improvements in training and safety measures are helping to create safer workplaces, clearly, there is still work to be done. Despite the drop deaths in last year, on average one Hispanic worker lost his or her life every 17 hours in 2014. This reflects a fatality rate 19 percent higher than the national average. While this is an improvement from the 35 percent disparity we saw a decade ago, it is still nowhere near an acceptable number.

Most Common Causes of Workplace Injuries and Fatalities Among the Hispanic Population

Traditionally, a high number of Hispanic workers in Boston and throughout Massachusetts have worked in labor-intensive jobs. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor suggests that the recent decline in job-related fatalities among Hispanic workers is directly attributable to an overall reduction in the number of hours worked in the construction industry.

According to BLS data, over half of all Hispanic workers’ job-related deaths are attributable to the victims’ employment in labor-intensive industries. In 2013:

  • 22 percent of deaths resulted from slips, trips and falls
  • 17 percent of deaths resulted from traffic accidents
  • 14 percent of deaths resulted from being struck by an object or piece of equipment

Although the data don’t specifically address non-fatal injuries, generally speaking, non-fatal injury trends tend to follow death statistics.

What Can Hispanic Workers do to Protect Themselves at Work?

Workers of all ethnicities can benefit from taking reasonable measures to protect themselves. Unfortunately, laborers and truck drivers in particular often find themselves being pressured to work long hours and take risks that can put their lives in danger. If you are being forced to work under unsafe conditions, the best thing you can do is seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Likewise, if you have been injured on the job – or if you have lost a loved one in a work-related incident – you should speak with an injury attorney as soon as possible.

Have You Been Injured at Work? Contact Attorney John J. Sheehan Today

The attorneys at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan are dedicated to helping workers and their families fight for just compensation. We have decades of experience taking on some of Boston’s largest employers, and we have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. To find out if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation today. Hablamos Español.

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