Arye, Lustig & Sassower, P.C.

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For Hispanic construction workers, language barriers can be deadly

In dangerous occupations like the construction industry, it's critical that employers and contractors are able to communicate key safety information to ensure for the physical health and safety of all workers. Alarmingly, a significant percentage of U.S. construction workers are Hispanic immigrants who speak little to no English and are therefore at a greater risk of suffering serious and fatal workplace injuries.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, during 2013, a total of 817 work-related deaths occurred at construction sites across the country, making it one of the most dangerous professions in the U.S. For Hispanic immigrants who must regularly work atop roofs, scale scaffolding and climb into deep trenches; understanding OSHA regulations and laws and how those laws aim to protect workers is critical.

U.S. construction employers are required to provide workers with important safety training, information and equipment. However, when it comes to the more than 1.6 million Hispanic construction workers, many of whom are young and don't speak English, construction employers often fail to take the necessary steps to ensure that these workers receive the training and equipment necessary to safely perform their jobs. This is often especially true at smaller construction companies which "account for 90 percent of all construction firms."

Every day construction workers risk their physical safety and very lives on job sites across the U.S. Employers who fail to address the unique concerns facing Hispanic construction workers may face fines, penalties and legal action. Construction workers who have been injured or who have had a loved one injured or killed may choose to contact an attorney to discuss taking legal action in the hopes of recovering compensation.

Source: EHS Today, "Young Hispanic Construction Workers Are the Most Vulnerable in the United States," Sandy Smith, May 7, 2015

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