Everyone knows that New York City construction sites can be dangerous places. A new study indicates, however, that they are more dangerous for some workers than others. Indeed, Latino and immigrant construction workers are far more likely to die than other workers in construction site accidents.
The group Center for Popular Democracy examined information collected by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in New York City construction site accidents from 2003 to 2011. Researchers discovered that about 74 percent of all workers who died in accidents were either immigrants or Latinos who were born here in the U.S. That number is staggering, particularly in light of the fact that only 41 percent of all New York City construction workers identify themselves as Latino.
The Center for Popular Democracy suggested that the main reason so many Latino workers are dying is because contractors are not taking proper steps to ensure the safety of their workers. According to a study by the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, smaller contractors, which are often non-union organizations, are much more likely to hire immigrants for short periods. These workers are far less likely to have received necessary safety training and, in many cases, they are not provided with proper safety equipment. What is worse, these workers are typically unwilling to speak up about unsafe working conditions for fear that they will lose their jobs.
For its part, the Center for Popular Democracy is currently stepping up efforts to prevent changes to New York's laws regarding scaffolding accidents. Currently, New York law holds contractors responsible for injuries and deaths that come as a result of a failure to follow mandatory safety rules. They argue that this law has provided important incentives for contractors to follow the law and provide their workers with the safety training and equipment they need. Contractors are currently fighting to change this law, saying it is unfair and drives up costs - particularly the cost of insurance - unnecessarily.
Only time will tell whether the Center for Popular Democracy is likely to prevail when it comes to preventing changes to New York law. No matter what, it is clear that more must be done to ensure the safety of all construction workers in New York City, but particularly immigrants and Latinos.
If you have suffered a serious injury in a construction site accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights and legal options.