Everyone knows that construction jobs are among the most dangerous jobs out there. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 12 construction workers are killed on the job every single day. However, according to a new report released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), some groups of workers are at greater risk than others.
According to the report, construction workers who are young, Hispanic and work for small firms face a higher risk of injury and death than any other demographic group in the construction industry.
Most troubling is that the problem starts with what is recognized as poor safety training. Young and inexperienced new Hispanic workers, especially immigrants who don’t yet speak English, tend to be unfamiliar with the inherent risks of the job and are too often not aware of standard safety procedures. To make matters worse, smaller contractors often don’t have the resources available to provide adequate safety training and equipment.
Officials with the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) affirm that training quality varies by company, and often involves simply pairing a new worker with an older one and hoping for the best. Often, that’s inadequate.
While the overall number of workplace fatalities in the construction industry was down in 2013, Hispanics were the only ethnic group to see an increase that year. OSHA notes that employers have a tendency to blame most injuries on workers, while it’s the employer’s responsibility to prevent injuries to workers.
At the beginning of this year, OSHA changed the way businesses report injuries or fatalities; they now require employers to report every fatality, hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye, and to do so within a shorter period of time. They are also conducting their second annual National Fall Safety Stand-Down campaign. They hope to use these measures to encourage better hazard prevention and to improve training for everyone, including Hispanics, and keep everyone safe.