. That was the conclusion of The Center for Popular Democracy’s review of construction site accidents and their corresponding federal investigations from 2003 to 2011. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatalities for Latino construction workers rose 20 percent from 2010 to 2013, while deaths for non-Latinos fell during that same period.
In March 2015, a routine day at a construction site in Raleigh, North Carolina turned for the worst when four Latino mast climbers fell from a mast that separated from the building, killing three and injuring the other. A sign at the on-site memorial read, “While we run from a corrupt government, we put our lives on the line in the chase of the American dream. RIP fellow dreamers.”
Evidence continues to point to the reality that working conditions for Latino and immigrant workers come with greater safety risks. One of the main culprits? Regulation. Across the US, most states report having more than 100,000 work sites, and many states double that number. Small non-union construction companies operate many of these sites. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) takes on the task of inspecting these work sites, but with barely 2,000 inspectors staffing the entire country, it’s not difficult to see that the vast majority of these sites get skipped in the process, leaving the task of safety to the very contractors needing to be regulated and held to high safety standards.
The Center for Popular Democracy’s report indicates that the important step of thorough safety equipment training is often being skipped. In addition, safety laws continually come up for revision. New York’s Scaffold Law mandates that contractors are to provide the equipment necessary to maintain safety, which could include scaffolds, ladders, and appropriate attachments. But a revision to this law could see contractors and owners far less responsible for injuries and death, and would instead place that burden on the workers themselves. That’s quite a detail to note when coupled with the findings of the AFL-CIO representing America Unions, who report that the majority of victims in construction work falls are Latinos or immigrants. Untangling these traps may require a construction accident lawyer.
A construction accident lawyer provides an additional safeguard for workers and their families who are dealing with workplace injury or death. Since safety violations may be more common at job sites run by these less frequently monitored contractors, an attorney specializing in this practice will also be able to assess what workers’ compensation benefits you as the injured worker are due, and whether or not you have a personal injury claim for damages.
For more information or to discuss a workplace accident, contact the team at Stoner Grannis LLP to speak with a construction accident lawyer today.