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AFL-CIO: Latino Worker Death Rate Climbs, Regulations to Protect Workers in Jeopardy

April 26, 2017
Peg Seminario, AFL-CIO’s director of safety and health, indicates that economic growth coupled with a changing political climate could be the reasons why certain demographics have higher fatality rates in the workplace.

AFL-CIO has released the 26th edition of its "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect" report, which investigates the current state of health and safety for America's workers.

Comprehensive analysis was performed on 2015 data pulled from sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and OSHA. The most recent data shows that while the number of worker deaths remained steady, the fatality rate of America's Latino workers was 18 percent higher than the national average.

"There was not a major overall change in fatalities. That’s been the case in recent years," said Peg Seminario, AFL-CIO director of safety and health. "However, if you dig deeper, for some groups of workers, the situation is getting worse."

Deaths among Latino workers increased to increased to 903, up from 804 in 2014. Overall, 943 immigrant workers were killed on the job in 2015. This is the highest number since 2007, according to the organization.

Seminario attributed the rise in Latino fatalities to the demographic's propensity to work in some of most dangerous industries such as construction and agriculture. In addition, she directly pointed out the new administration's goal to cut regulations by 70 percent.

"This is one area where he’s going to try and keep the promise, unfortunately," she said.

On January 30, President Trump signed an executive order which states that any agency wishing to enact a new regulation in Fiscal Year 2017 will be required to eliminate two existing rules.

“One minus two is a negative number, and that means less protection for workers," Seminario said. "This is quite a troubling executive order."

OSHA standards that were slated to go into effect this year already have been postponed, such as the beryllium rule. Seminario said AFL-CIO continues to be involved in the litigation of pending regulations and will continue to do so in an effort to make sure employees go home safe.

"We fully intend to attempt to engage with the new administration," she said. "We many have strong differences in opinion, but one thing we have always done is to be part of discussion and debate. We have a job of defending the working people and we intend to do that.”

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