A major workplace hazard for millions of Americans last year was COVID-19, particularly for people who still had to physically show up for their jobs. A high number of those “essential workers” are Latinos.
Before ad during the pandemic, data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows Latino workers are at higher risk of workplace injuries and death, with a rate of 4 injuries per 100,000 workers, compared to 3.5 for all workers.
And those numbers have been going up over the past few years, said J.R. Gonzales with the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce
“In 2017, there were 903 deaths of Latinos in the workplace,” Gonzales said. “In 2018, it rose to 961. And in 2019 it was 1,088. It’s skewing upwards.”
One possible cause is the growing share of Latinos in the workforce, and particularly, in more dangerous jobs like construction.
“One, just per capita, that there’s more [Latino] workers is going to tend to skew a little bit that way,” Gonzales said. “But also the question I have, are they being properly trained for their language barriers or are some of these workers taken for granted?”
Gonzales also points out that higher numbers of immigrant workers mean some may not be willing to risk their job by reporting safety issues or injuries.
“The employee has to insist that the employer have a safe work environment. Unfortunately, especially with the Latino community, you have a lot of folks that are just glad to have a job and will do whatever it takes and not say anything just to keep the job.”