The construction industry accounted for about 34 percent of work-related deaths among Hispanic workers in the United States from 2003-06, according to a government report released this month.
While the death rate for Hispanic workers actually declined as a whole from 1992-2006 compared to previous periods, "the rate was consistently higher than the rate for all U.S. workers, and the proportion of deaths among foreign-born Hispanic workers increased over time," according to the report, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Additional efforts are needed to reduce the risk for death among Hispanic workers because of projected increases in their employment, involvement in work with high risk for injury, susceptibility to miscommunication caused by language differences, and other potential risks associated with culture and economic status," the report states.
There were 11,303 work-related deaths among Hispanic workers from 1992-2006, and the death rate among all Hispanic workers was five per 100,000, and 5.9 per 100,000 among all foreign-born Hispanic workers. That compares to a death rate of four per 100,000 among non-Hispanic white workers.
Work-related falls were the most common cause of death among Hispanic workers in 2006 and 2000, while highway incidents were the most common fatal event from 1997-2006 and homicide was the most common fatal event from 1992-96.
The report reveals that 773 Hispanic workers were killed in work-related incidents from 1992-2006 — the highest number among states — followed by 687 in Texas and 417 in Florida.
Behind the construction industry, the administrative and waste services industry ranked second in work-related deaths among Hispanic workers, accounting for 11 percent of deaths. The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry accounted for 10 percent, as did the transportation and warehousing industry.
"Much of the increased risk for Hispanic workers likely can be attributed to holding high-risk jobs," the report states, though "an analysis of Hispanic work-related injury deaths in the construction industry found that Hispanic workers also had elevated rates when compared with non-Hispanic workers in the same occupations," such as laborers and roofers.
The National Association of Home Builders, through its Home Builders Institute, launched an educational program last year that targets job-site safety for Spanish-speaking workers through English-language instruction.
The program, dubbed "Sed de Saber," teaches conversational English skills.
"Evidence strongly suggests that communication is a major factor in improving safety, and with the growing number of Hispanic employees in our industry, it’s extremely important that everyone on the job site understands one another," said Sandy Dunn, NAHB president, in a statement.
The program teaches hundreds of words and phrases, "with job site safety as a primary goal," according to the NAHB announcement, and relies on job site safety details from a handbook developed by NAHB and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
National builder Pulte Homes used the program in its Phoenix-based building operations in late 2007, NAHB announced.
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