Immigration reform would reduce Latino worker deaths, National COSH claims

NACOSH "Not an Accident" Powerpoint cover

San Diego – Immigration reform can directly improve the safety and health of Latino workers, the only demographic group to experience an increase in fatalities in 2013, according to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.

On-the-job deaths involving Latinos or Hispanics jumped 9 percent between 2012 and 2013, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released in April. The group’s fatal injury rate rose to 3.9 in 2013 from 3.7 the previous year. The national average is 3.3.

Latinos have a greater risk of serious injury or death on the job because they often work in high-hazard industries such as construction and agriculture, and are less likely to speak up for their rights, according to Jessica Martinez, deputy director of the National COSH.

“Enough is enough,” Martinez said in an interview with Safety+Health magazine. “We need to realize there are preventions; that workers do have rights independent of their status, their ethnicity or their language.”

The call for immigration reform was included in a National COSH report released on April 23 to mark Workers Memorial Day. According to the AFL-CIO, two-thirds of all Latinos who die on the job are immigrants.