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Latino workers are more likely to die on the job than anyone else.
Most of the Latinos killed are also immigrants, according to a news report by KALW radio.
“In 2017, we lost 376 workers [in California],” Jora Trang, a managing attorney at the labor rights’ organization Worksafe, told KALW. “That’s more than one worker a day.”
Latinos & Job Fatalities
Latinos have disproportionately died on the job for quite some time.
In 2016, 879 Latino workers were killed on the job.
In 2017, that number rose to 903.
This puts the Latino fatality rate higher than the national job fatality rate for all workers, Latino Rebels reports.
“This is a national crisis. And it’s well past time that our elected leaders in Washington, D.C., stop playing politics and take action to prevent these tragedies. Instead, the Trump administration is actually gutting the protections we fought so hard to win in the first place,” said Richard Trumka, leader of the AFL-CIO, in a statement.
“This is unacceptable. It’s shameful. And the labor movement is doing everything in our power to stop it.”
The states with the greatest number of Latino worker fatalities in 2017 were Texas (219), California (173) and Florida (81). These account for 41%, 46% and 27% of worker fatalities in each state, according to the report.
Why So Many Fatalities?
The greatest number of Latino work-related deaths is in the construction industry.
Latino work-related deaths stem from multiple industries:
- car accidents via freight trucking (heavy and tractor trailer drivers)
- workers in landscaping services—often being killed falling from trees
- temporary help services workers falling to a lower level—often during scaffold staging, and construction trades worker—specifically, carpenters
Researchers say that Latino workers are more likely than white workers to die in falls, NBC News reports. Federal data show that falls caused nearly 26% of job-related deaths of Latinos in 2017, compared to about 16% of white fatalities.
“Hispanic workers perform some of the most dangerous jobs in the industry,” Luz Marin of Indiana University of Pennsylvania told NBC News.
Advocating for Latino Workers
Currently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has limited resources. They have only 752 inspectors—the lowest number since the early 1970s, according to the AFL-CIO report.
The Trump administration has continued to eliminate safety rules, according to the report. They also propose deep cuts to worker safety and health training and job safety research.
Many Latinos, especially immigrants, who die on the job aren’t aware of their rights, which leads to adverse outcomes both professionally and personally.
“If they’re too afraid to speak out, because they feel like they could be at risk of losing their jobs, then it can be a real problem.”
Trang and other advocates, commemorated International Workers Memorial Day on May 1, 2019, by setting up a makeshift altar in Frank Ogawa Plaza with portraits of deceased workers.
“Workers in low wage industries, especially if they don’t have union protection, can be subjected to a lot of hazards,” said former California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration leader Juliann Sum, a featured speaker at the vigil, according to KALW radio.
“Especially if it’s a small contractor on a shoestring budget, there could be corners cut. Sometimes the employers don’t even know what the rules are.”