AFL-CIO Study Finds Increase in Fatalities of Latino Workers

Workplace fatalities have increased sharply for Latino and immigrant workers, according to the new AFL-CIO annual study: "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect." In 2006, fatal injuries among Latino workers increased by seven percent over 2005, with 990 fatalities among this group of workers, the highest number ever reported.

The total number of fatal workplace injuries in the United States was 5,840, an increase from the year before, AFL-CIO states. On average, 16 workers were fatally injured and another 11,200 workers were injured or made ill each day in 2006. These statistics do not include deaths from occupational diseases, which claim the lives of an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 more workers each year.

The fatality rate among Hispanic workers in 2006 was 25 percent higher than the fatal injury rate for all U.S. workers, according to the AFL-CIO. Since 1992, when data was first collected in the BLS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the number of fatalities among Latino workers has increased by 86 percent, from 533 fatal injuries in 1992 to 990 deaths in 2006. Among foreign-born workers, job fatalities have increased by 63 percent, from 635 to 1,035 deaths.

"It's clear that the workplace safety net has more holes than fabric, and it is costing too many American workers their lives," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. "Our nation's workplaces have gotten more dangerous, not safer, under President Bush. Congress and the next President must take real action by strengthening the OSHA Act with tougher civil and criminal penalties, addressing increasing risks for Hispanic and immigrant workers, increasing funding for OSHA, and fully implementing the provisions of the MINER Act."

According to AFL-CIO, construction sector had the largest number of fatal work injuries (1,239, up from 1,192 in 2005), followed by transportation and warehousing (860), and agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (655). In the construction sector, there was a gap between Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers. In 2005, the death rate for Hispanic construction workers was 12.4/100,000 full time workers compared to 10.5/100,000 non-Hispanic construction workers.

The report also examined OSHA staffing levels, finding that to inspect each workplace once, it would take federal OSHA 133 years with its current number of inspectors. The current level of federal and state OSHA inspectors provides one inspector for every 63,913 workers. This compares to a benchmark of one labor inspector for every 10,000 workers recommended by the International Labor Organization for industrialized countries.

For a copy of the AFL-CIO "Death on the Job" report, go to http://www.aflcio.org/issues/safety/memorial.

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