A recent review of the fatal fall data regularly collected by OSHA between 2003 and 2011 shows some shocking disparities between ethnicities across the country with even larger gaps present in New York City. The numbers show that while only 41% of construction workers in New York City identify themselves as Latino, these individuals account for a whopping 74% of all fatal construction accidents involving falls. The data also breaks down the damage by Borough: Queens and Brooklyn have the highest rates of Latino construction accident deaths (88% and 87% respectively).
These stats are highlighted in a recent report entitled “Fatal Inequality: Workplace Safety Eludes Construction Workers of Color in New York State.” The Center for Popular Democracy recently compiled the data and authored the report in an attempt to showcase the plight of underrepresented workers in the construction industry and reinforce their position that New York’s scaffolding law should remain unaltered.
But why is there such a disparity between the number of deaths of Latinos and non-Latino construction workers? Experts speculate that the reason for the higher construction accident death rates in Latinos has more to do with the companies that such men and women work for rather than the individuals themselves. For instance, 86% of the fatal accidents occurred on non-union job sites.
As critics point out, such jobs are often run by small contractors who don’t place the necessary emphasis on safety. Indeed, most of the accidents OSHA investigated were at least partially caused by lax safety regulations and workplace violations. These employers tend to hire as-needed temporary employees and it does not appear that these workers are getting the training they need in order to stay safe.
“Contractors aren’t taking simple steps to protect their workers,” Connie Razza, a Center for Popular Democracy spokesperson, recently told The Daily News. “They are not providing the training and the safety equipment that are required by law.”
Additionally, The Daily News speculated in their response that many immigrant workers are less likely to report workplace violations for fear of losing their jobs. Unfortunately, that crippling fear may have already cost lives. Retrospective investigations show that at 85% of the job sites linked to fatal falls, there was at least one “serious” level 10 safety violation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident-regardless of your ethnicity-you have a right to just compensation. Contact an expert New York City construction accident attorney today to discuss your case and begin the process to secure your financial future. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation at (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122 to learn your rights.