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Construction Workers

Immigrant, Latino, and Older Workers Face Greatest Risks on Construction Sites

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) recently published “Deadly Skyline”, the organization’s annual report on construction fatalities throughout New York State. We have broken down the key findings into a series of blogs, but you can also read the report in full here. This is part 8/8.

New York State, as well as the United States as a whole, has seen a noticeable increase in the number of Latino workers killed on the job over the past five years. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 879 Latino workers were killed on worksites across the country in 2016, compared to 748 who were killed in 2012.

NYCOSH reports consistently show that Latino construction workers, as well as immigrant workers, are consistently exploited by employers through willful health and safety violations on worksites. Through an in-depth analysis of fines issued for construction site violations in 2015, the Committee found that Latino workers were 84 percent more likely to be killed on worksites with willful or egregious OSHA violations than other workers. NYCOSH also found that despite the fact that Latino workers only make up 30 percent of the workforce, they accounted for 57 percent of the falls that occurred in 2015.

This issue may only become more pronounced in the increasingly hostile environment Latino workers and their families face. With the current presidential administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) while simultaneously increasing the number of raids targeting immigrants across the country, workers will have less power to stand up for their rights and report employer abuse, let alone unionize. The administration is also looking to dramatically increase the number of Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) employees over the next few years, so this issue will likely become worse as that staff grows in size.

Older construction workers in New York State also face increased risks on worksites, albeit for very different reasons. According to NYCOSH, workers between the ages of 55 and 64 are the most likely to die on the job. While officials are still working to uncover the underlying reason for this, experts point towards the effects the aging process has on the human body. This includes worsening chronic conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis, issues maintaining balance, decreased reaction time, and gradually worsening hearing and vision impairment.

Ensuring the safety of every worker should be the number one priority on any construction site, but far too many employers and contractors choose to ignore that in the name of speed and profit. If you were seriously injured in a construction site accident, contact our New York City personal injury attorneys at the Perecman Firm today by calling us at (212) 577-9325 or by filling out our online form to set up a free case evaluation with a member of our firm.

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