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April 27, 2017
Report: California's Latino workers are at high risk

California’s workplace fatality rates are low, compared to the rest of the nation: just 2.2 workers per 100,000, each year, compared to 3.4 per 100,000 nationally. But a new report from the AFL-CIO, “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, 2017,” shows that California is leading the nation in at least one grim statistic: Latino worker deaths.

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The analysis, performed with newly-available 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS), found that 903 Latino workers died in 2015, a steep increase over the 804 Latino workers who died on the job in 2014. The fatality rate among Latino workers in 2015 was 4.0 per 100,000 workers – 18% higher than the rate for the overall working population.

Immigrant workers account for nearly all of the increase. In 2015, 943 immigrant workers died on the job (the highest number since 2007), and 605 of them (67%) were Latino. California workers accounted for more than half of the increase in deaths among Latino workers: 178 Latino workers died in California in 2015. Only Texas lost more Latino workers (220); Florida’s Latino population suffered the third-highest rate of workplace deaths (78).

High-risk jobs, high-risk industries

One factor in the increase is that there are high numbers of immigrant and Latino workers in three of the highest-risk industries: construction, transportation and agriculture. Work-related deaths in most industries decreased in 2015, but rates in those three industries rose.

The leading causes of death for Latino and immigrant workers were similar to those for all workers:

  • Among all workers, transportation was the leading cause of death, accounting for 42% of worker’s deaths. Transportation incidents were also the leading cause of death for Latino and immigrant workers’ deaths, accounting for 36% of Latino workers’ deaths, and 35% of immigrant workers’ deaths.
  • Falls were the second leading cause of death for all workers, resulting in 17% of all fatalities. Falls accounted for 23% of deaths among both Latino and immigrant workers
  • Contact with objects or equipment was the third-leading cause of death for all workers, leading to 14.9% of all fatalities. It was the cause of death for 16% of Latino workers and 13% of immigrant workers.
  • Violence was the fourth-leading cause of death for all workers, accounting for 14.5% of workers’ deaths. Twelve percent of Latino workers, and 19% of immigrant workers died as a result of violent incidents.

Another, smaller industry, oil and gas, also saw a high number of Latino worker deaths – although the number decreased in 2015, compared to 2014. The industry has lost 220 Latino workers since 2009, increasing each year from 21 deaths in 2009 to 59 deaths in 2014, and then dropping to 28 deaths in 2015. 42% of the Latino workers who died in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas industries were immigrants.

Employers who have high numbers of Latino workers may wish to focus on reducing risks to this vulnerable population in 2017.

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