Hispanic and Latino workers made up 15% of the nation’s labor force in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In the construction and home building industries, that percentage is even higher. Unfortunately, Latino employees are the victims of jobsite fatalities more often than any other segment of the workforce.
“About 12 Latino workers die on the job every week, often while doing the hardest, most dangerous jobs in America,” Leni Uddyback-Fortson, regional director at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Public Affairs, wrote in an email to Builder.
“Often these workers are provided with little or no training or personal protective equipment, yet they often work in the most dangerous jobs. And because of language barriers, literacy, and other disadvantages, OSHA inspectors have found these workers are often hard to reach,” she wrote.
In an effort to combat the problem, the Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is hosting the Greater Philadelphia Area Action Summit for Latino and Immigrant Construction Worker Health and Safety, aimed at educating Latino and immigrant construction workers on scaffolding and fall hazards on construction sites, as well as other construction workplace concerns, such as wage protections.
The event will be held on April 15, 2011, in Philadelphia, and will include workers as well as representatives from unions, employers, community organizations, and federal and state agencies.
A similar event, the Southern New Jersey Action Summit for Latino and Immigrant Workers, will be held May 22, 2011, in Bridgeton, N.J.
“We want to give all workers a voice in the workplace, because a paycheck is not payment for silence. It is not a license to endure pain at any cost,” Uddyback-Fortson wrote. “We want Latino workers to know that if they have questions, if they have safety concerns, if they want to know about their rights, if they seek protection from retaliation when they complain about dangerous conditions on the job, they can rely on OSHA and the Department of Labor for help.”
Claire Easley is senior editor, online, for Builder.