If you haven't figured it out, the number of Latino workers in the US is increasing along with the number of unnecessary accidents, fatalities and costs. More than one in eight people in the United States are of Latino. In 2002, there were 37.4 million Latinos in the civilian noninstitutional population of the United States, representing 13.3 percent of the total population. This population increase also represented about 11% of our U.S. workforce.
Among the Hispanic population, two-thirds (66.9 percent) were of Mexican origin,14.3 percent were Central and South American,8.6 percent were Puerto Rican,3.7 percent were Cuban, and the remaining 6.5 percent were of other Hispanic origins
In 2003, 791 Hispanic workers were fatally injured while at work, down 12 percent from a high of 895 in 2001. Hispanic worker fatalities accounted for 14 percent of the 5,559 total fatal work injuries that occurred in the U.S. in 2003. The rate of 4.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers recorded for Hispanic workers was a 13 percent higher rate than the rate of 4.0 fatalities per 100,000 employed recorded for all workers. While fatal work injuries to Hispanic workers increased in each year from 1995 to 2001, they decreased in 2002 and 2003.
Number of fatal work injuries involving Hispanic or Latino workers, 1992–2003 (available in full paper).
While it is good to see this decrease in accident fatalities for the Latino population it is definitely too early to say why exactly this decrease has occurred. It can be due to a number of factors including efforts by Federal Agencies like OSHA, NIOSH, Center for Disease Control and other efforts made by the private sector and state agencies. Whatever the reasons, it is definitely to early to take a break from preventive efforts. This is especially true since the increase of the Latino population will only continue to grow over the next 10 to 20 years.
This is a real concern that we as Safety & Health professionals must stay on top of. Unfortunately people are unnecessarily suffering and dying from on the job accidents and secondly the rising cost of accidents and worker's compensation claims is having an impact not only on our organizations profits but also on our economy. If we want to change this situation around for the better, we are going to have to continue to make efforts to have better communication and a better understanding of this hardworking and growing ethnic group.