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Workers without papers are expendable — literally!

LatinaLista — The headline refers to a disturbing USA Today report recounting how though the overall number of workplace deaths has declined, the death of Hispanic workers on the job has risen.

Hispanic construction worker deaths rank the highest among all Hispanic workforce deaths.
(Photo source:

While it’s easy to lay blame on the workers themselves and their limited English proficiency as the cause for a 76 percent increase in Hispanic worker deaths since 1992, the real culprits have been allowed to go unpunished — the employers.
The majority of deaths are in the construction industry where 317 Hispanic deaths occurred in 2007. The next industry to record the highest number of Hispanic deaths was “Transportation and Warehousing” with 115.
The high deaths in each of these industries reflect two realities: the inherent dangers that exist within each industry and how little these employers value the lives of their employees — especially if they should be undocumented.
While it’s a given that accidents can happen anywhere, that they seem to happen mostly to Hispanics in certain industries means that there has to be change in regard to worker safety:
1. Not knowing what the literacy rates are among their workforce – especially, if they are picked up from day labor corners – safety instruction and job duty explanations should be delivered verbally in Spanish and, when possible, with visual images to illustrate safe and unsafe practices.
2. Diligent vigilance should be made over those employers who already have a record of high worker injuries and all employers should be required to report injury of any worker under their supervision, regardless of whether or not they are union workers.
3. A hotline should be set up for workers to anonymously report any kind of employer negligence when it comes to job safety or long hours without due compensation.

Accidents will happen but more must be done that shows, regardless of citizenship, lives are valued.
And those employers who don’t care about the welfare of their workers — don’t deserve to be in business.

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