In the United States, Hispanics make up around 15 percent of the total labor market. Unfortunately, Hispanics are injured in greater percentages on the job than would be expected based on the number of Latinos in the workplace. Hispanics, in fact, have the highest workplace death rate of any workers. African Americans, as well, are at higher risk of dying at work when compared to white workers, but the rate of death among African Americans is still lower than the percentage of Hispanic workers dying.
Our Atlanta work accident lawyers know that employers have an obligation to keep all employees safe. An employee's race, religion, color, national origin and other protected status should have no impact on how an employer treats an employee at work. Unfortunately, this data shows that all people are not treated equally in the workplace.
Hispanics and African Americans at the Greatest Risk of Workplace Death
According to a recent ABC News article, 20 percent of all workplace fatalities involve Hispanic workers. This is a disproportionately higher number of deaths than would be expected given that Latinos make up only 15 percent of the workforce.
In 2011, for example, a total of 729 out of the 4,600 workers who lost their lives on the job were Latino. In 2010, 707 Latino workers lost their lives. African Americans also saw an increase in the number of fatalities during this time period while the number of white workers killed went down.
While Latinos are already dying at higher rates than other races and have been for many years, things actually seem to be getting a little bit worse for Hispanics even as conditions get better for many other workers. For example, in 2011, there was a three percent rise in on-the-job fatalities for Latinos when compared with 2010. This increase was the first increase since the number of Hispanic workers killed at work rose in 2006.
The increase here was especially troubling because the total number of workplace fatalities among whites declined during the same time period. This widens an already- skewed gap in workplace fatalities among races since Hispanics were already dying in larger numbers at work.
Protecting the Rights of Latino Workers
Employers need to do more to protect every workers' rights, including the rights of Latinos. One important issue that could make a major difference for Latino workers, for example, is the issue of immigration. According to ABC News, around 500 of the 729 Latinos who were killed on the job in 2011 were described as "foreign born." The majority of these workers were from Mexico.
If some of these "foreign-born" workers are undocumented immigrants, these workers may not enjoy the full protections of the laws available to U.S. citizens. Some dishonest and unscrupulous employers take advantage of labor provided by undocumented immigrants and don't take safety as seriously since they know that the undocumented workers can do little to complain to authorities or protect their rights. Ensuring that ALL workers can take action when workplace safety violations are occurring, regardless of their immigration status, could save many lives.