Recently released data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that immigrant workers made up the vast majority of deaths on construction sites in New York City in 2015.
According to the figures released on Friday, April 28, 18 of the 25 workers who died on construction job sites in 2015 were born outside of the United States. The Bureau reported that 13 of those killed were originally from South and Central America, including five who moved to the United States from Mexico, with the final three moving to the country from Europe.
These figures include people not counted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which tallied 17 construction accident deaths in 2015 or the Department of Buildings, which tallied 11 construction accident deaths in 2015. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t release information about those who were killed, the higher number they reported indicates that they identified deaths that weren’t investigated by the city or covered by the media.
In cases like that, the family of the deceased may never hear about the passing of their loved one, especially if they live outside of the United States. Some organizations, like the union-backed New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, track the deaths.
"I read obituaries, I read everything," said Charlene Obernauer, who works for the Committee. "Especially when that worker hasn't had a formal funeral because that worker's family is in another country, then it's really hard [to find out that the death happened]… You shouldn't have to be a private investigator to find out the name of a worker who's died on a job site."