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Michael Levine
Michael Levine
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Work-Related Injury Deaths Among Hispanics- United States, 1992-2006

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According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, undocumented workers deal with very hazardous conditions resulting in injuries. 70 % of undocumented workers are Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Hispanic workers die at a 25 % higher rate than workers of other races. In 2006, 19.6 million workers in the United States were Hispanic, 56 % of whom were foreign-born. From 1992 to 2006, a total of 11,303 Hispanic workers died from work-related injuries. From 2003 to 2006, 34 % of Hispanic worker deaths occurred in the construction industry. Aside from 1995, the annual work-related injury death rate for Hispanic workers exceeded the rate for all U.S. workers every year during the period of 1992 to 2006. In 2006, the work-related injury death rate for Hispanic workers was 5.0 per 100,000 compared to 4.0 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic workers. During 2003 to 2006, the most common industries employing Hispanics who died from work-related injuries were construction (34 %), administrative and waste services (11 %), fishing/hunting (10 %), and transportation/warehousing (10 %). The BLS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuires (CFOI) and the BLS Current Population Survey (CPS) were responsible for the statistics in this summary.

While this report is startling, there are four limitations to this data:

1) The number of deaths among Hispanic workers is probably understated. Seven in ten undocumented workers in the United States are Hispanic. Many Hispanic workers are unwilling to report job-related injuries due to language barriers or a fear of being fired.

2) Hispanic ethnicity might have been misclassified in the CFOI, which relies on secondary data sources, and also in CPS, which uses a single reporter for all household members.

3) Hispanic workers might be undercounted in the CPS, which relies on stable residences for sequential interviews and largely collects data via telephone.

4) Hispanic workers, especially those who are foreign born, might be more willing to perform tasks that have a higher risk involved out of a fear of being unemployed.