Constructions workers are considered to have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. In New York State, construction workers account for less than 4% of employment. However, construction workers represent 20% of all work-related fatalities according to a recent report released by NYCOSH (The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health) earlier this month. In New York State, 60% of fatal falls investigated by OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Association) were elevation related. Alarmingly, in New York City, 74 % of fatal falls were Latino and immigrant workers and 86% of the Latino and immigrant workers that died from their falls were working for non-union contractors.
Why is this happening to Latino and immigrant construction workers? Non-union contractors are more likely to employ Latino and immigrant day laborers. Medical records of 7,000 Latino construction workers were studied. The results showed that Latinos was 30% more likely than white non-Latino workers to be injured on the job. Lack of the proper safety training required by law is said to be part of the problem. Out of fear of retaliation, deportation and loss of their jobs, immigrant workers are not so willing to report safety violations and speak about the hazardous conditions in which they may be working. Without the proper reporting of violations, fatal accidents will, unfortunately, continue to happen.
The NYCOSH report also found that non-union employers are the least safe for construction workers to be employed. In 2012, out of all the fatal fall construction accidents investigated by OSHA, 79% of them occurred at non-union construction sites. OSHA’s “Severe Violator Enforcement Program” has numerous non-union employers as repeat safety violation offenders on its list. When a worker has a fatal fall at a construction site, OSHA, more often than not, has found that safety violations were the cause. In 2012, elevated construction accidents that were investigated by OSHA in New York showed an astounding 89% were a result of safety violations. More specifically, 68% of these fatalities were violations of safety standards explicitly intended to prevent falls from elevated construction sites.
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