As a New York Workers’ Comp lawyer, it pains me to see entire industries going backwards in the area workers’ rights and basic safety.
Unfortunately, new studies have been released this month showing that construction work is now deadlier than ever for Hispanic employees. This is odd, considering that construction work in general has improved in safety ratings for just about every other demographic.
So why the discrepancy? Some argue that since the financial crisis, Latinos have disproportionately taken jobs in the most dangerous segments of the construction industry, naturally resulting in higher fatality and accident rates.
Others argue that a large majority of Latinos in the construction industry are undocumented workers. As a result, they tend to migrate toward non-union jobs with smaller contractors who are more likely to bend safety rules and regulations. In New York, for example, several recent studies have found that federal inspections more commonly uncover violations by small contractors than by large, unionized employers.
But, that’s when a violation is even found. Statistics also show that smaller employers are less likely to have their job sites inspected as closely as their larger industrial competitors and counterparts. It’s a known fact that OSHA is understaffed and many risks to workers often go unnoticed by key agencies and inspectors. According to an AFL-CIO report issued last year, the agency’s federal and state offices have just under 2,000 inspectors — enough to visit every job site in the country roughly once every 139 years! Ridiculous!
It’s no surprise, then, why accidents and fatalities for Latinos in the workplace are significantly on the rise. Their worksites are more dangerous than ever with minimal regulations and oversights. Something needs to be done to protect this vulnerable group in our society.
As a Workers’ Compensation lawyer in New York City, I would say that it’s critical for Hispanics and their loved ones to proactively learn how to protect their interests, and even blow the whistle on unacceptable workplace hazards and risks.
Dangerous conditions should most definitely be reported to OSHA and other regulatory bodies when possible, and all workers should become familiar with their rights if an accident does occur on the job. Our free book on Navigating The Workers’ Compensation Maze is a great place to start to learn about Workers’ Compensation rights and how those employed in the state of New York can secure justice if injured on the job.
Our team of New York workers’ comp. and accident lawyers are also here as a resource for workers and their family members who may have questions about accidents, fatalities or unacceptable risks on a job site. To speak with one of our attorneys, simply contact our firm toll-free at 866-205-2415.