CHICAGO – Today, Governor Rod Blagojevich proposed the creation of a special panel to investigate the high incidence of work related death rates among Hispanic workers. The number of fatal work injuries among Hispanic workers has steadily increased for the past decade. Although injury and fatality rates are falling overall, far too many workers are being injured and killed on the job. “Workers and their families should expect that their loved ones return home safely after a hard day of work,” Governor Blagojevich said. “That's why I am naming a panel that will provide recommendations to insure that here in Illinois, we are doing absolutely everything possible to protect our workers.” The Governor's panel will identify and develop best practices for reaching Hispanic workers, and will also recommend training and legislative changes to strengthen worker protections.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Hispanic deaths has increased each year for the past decade. The number of fatalities among Hispanic workers has increased significantly in the transportation, construction, agriculture, retail and the service industries. Day laborers and immigrant workers are issues of special concern and the panel will pay special attention to their needs.
Some of the reasons why Latino deaths in the work place are so high include:
- Immigrant workers occupy dangerous jobs.
- Immigrant workers often do not receive proper safety training.
- Safety information and safety training is often not provided in Spanish.
- Immigrant workers are frequently not educated about their rights to a safe workplace, and often did not have those rights in their country.
- Immigrant workers are afraid to complain because they will be fired (and/or deported) since they often do not have the protection of a union.
- There is inadequate enforcement, and a need for OSHA to increase Spanish speaking enforcement personnel.
The Hispanic population in Illinois has increased by 69% and according to the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute the Hispanic population in 2002 numbers 1,681,402.
The Governor expects to announce the panel comprised of legal and health and safety experts, labor, business, and community advocates. The Governor plans to take action based upon their findings. The members of the panel will be named within two weeks.