As occupational fatalities fell for the sixth and second consecutive years in 2001 for white and black workers, respectively, Hispanic workers were the only demographic group to see a rise in workplace deaths. These statistics, released by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics in the “National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2001,” highlight a trend that has begun to rear its head in the electrical industry as well. Deaths among Hispanic workers have risen more than 20% over the last two years that statistics were available.
Due in large part to a lack of knowledge of the English language, Mexican nationals working on U.S. jobsites constitute one of the groups most vulnerable to workplace injuries and fatalities. In fact, 61% of workers who died in the workplace in Dallas had limited English-speaking abilities. The south and west regions of the country seem to be the hardest hit. And data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' report and the U.S. Census Bureau's 2000 population report state that more than 44% of the United States' Hispanic population lives in the West, and one-third resides in the South.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of workplace fatalities occurred in the South, and another 22% happened in the West. The report doesn't break those figures down further to show how many of those killed in each region were Spanish-speaking émigrés, but of the 5,900 total recorded workplace deaths in 2001, 15% were Hispanic. For a closer look at the issue of workplace safety among Spanish-speaking workers, see “Lost in the Translation” on page 48.