Latinos make up highest percentage of California workplace deaths: report

Oakland, CA – For the first time, Latino workers in California experienced the state’s highest percentage of on-the-job deaths, according to a new report (.pdf file).

Of the 301 preliminary work-related deaths in the state in 2009, 42 percent were Latino workers; white, non-Hispanic workers made up 40 percent; 7 percent were Asian; and 6 percent were black, non-Hispanic, according to the report.

The report is from worker advocacy organization Worksafe and the Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.

In Los Angeles County, where about one-quarter of all fatalities in the state occur, nearly half of all workplace fatality victims between 1992 and 2007 were Latinos, the report said.

The majority of Latinos who died in LA County were foreign-born. Immigrant workers have a greater risk of workplace injuries and illnesses because of language barriers and their vulnerability to exploitation, and because they are less likely to know and exercise their legal rights, the report said.

The report also found:

  • Workplace deaths in 2009 declined 35 percent from the final 2008 count of 465.
  • The soft drink and ice manufacturing industry had the highest injury rate, with 12.9 per 100 workers.
  • No information was available for 75 percent of all workplace illnesses.

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