Construction Injuries More Common in Immigrant Population

by on August 12, 2015

According to recent research from Working Immigrants, a majority of construction-related injuries and fatalities involve immigrant workers. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH) issued a report earlier this year that noted the following statistics:

  •  Although Latinos make up a quarter of New York State construction workers, 38 percent of New York construction fatalities in 2012 were Latinos;
  • Several studies have shown that Latino construction workers are 30 percent more likely than their white, non-Latino coworkers to be injured on the job;
  • Approximately 40 percent of NY’s 124,240 construction laborers, 36 percent of the 7,710 drywall installers, 25 percent of the 88,475 carpenters and 28 percent of the 10,405 roofers are non-citizens; and
  • Nationally, construction fatalities involving Latinos increased from 182 to 2010 to 233 in 2013.

Finally, immigrant construction workers are more likely to work “off the books”, work as day laborers, have limited English proficiency, or be misclassified as contract workers. All of these factors contribute to a higher likelihood of receiving less-than-adequate safety training.

Construction Workers’ Rights

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Labor’s watchdog regarding workplace safety, has helped drive the construction accident rate down over the years. Nevertheless, the construction industry as a whole encompasses several hazards that can cause injuries or even death. These include, but are not limited to, repetitive motion injuries, trench or scaffold collapse, falls from heights, electric shock and failure to use proper safety equipment.

According to OSHA, almost 6.5 million people are working at a construction site nationwide on any given day. Under the regulations of OSHA, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workforce for employees. OSHA ensures this is met by establishing and enforcing standards, as well as conducting training, outreach education and assistance.

When a construction worker is injured on the job, there may be several avenues of legal relief available to the victim. While the law varies by state, generally an injured construction worker may file a (1) workers’ compensation claim, (2) personal injury suit, and/or (3) products liability suit.

  •  Workers’ compensation – these claims are typically paid through the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, which most employers are required to carry. Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, an injured worker will be entitled to payments whether or not he or she contributed to the injuries.
  • Personal injury lawsuit – a person filing a personal injury lawsuit must prove the defendant had (1) a duty to provide for the safety of the worker, (2) failed to meet that duty and (3) that failure caused injury to the victim. Any violation of OSHA regulations or other industry safety standards will likely be found to be a breach of the duty of care.
  • Products liability lawsuit – when a worker is injured due to a defective piece of equipment or construction material the designer, manufacturer, or seller of the equipment or material may be liable for injuries if the victim can prove that the equipment or material (1) was unreasonably dangerous when it left the defendant’s control, (2) it was being used in a foreseeable manner at the time the injury occurred and (3) the defect caused the injury.

If you have been injured in a construction accident, don’t hesitate to speak to an attorney. An experienced New York construction accident attorney can help you recover the compensation you deserve.



Jeffrey K.  Kestenbaum

Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in the New York City area

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