However, some workers are at a statistically higher risk on the basis of their skin color or their ethnic or national origin. That’s according to a new study conducted by researchers at The University of Southern California. Study authors included experts in health policy, economics, and medicine.
Researchers opined the cause may be disparities in economic opportunities that lead them to take on jobs that are more dangerous and heighten their risk of injuries and subsequent disabilities.
The study was published in the most recent edition of the journal Health Affairs.
Specifically, researchers determined men between the ages of 18 and 64 who are Hispanic immigrants – from somewhere other than the U.S. – have the highest average injury rate of any worker. Their injury rate was nearly 14 out of every 1,000 full-time workers.
The next greatest at-risk group was African American men in that same age group, who had an injury rate of about 12.5 for every 1,000 workers. The next group at high risk was U.S.-born Hispanic men, whose risk was 12 workers out of 1,000. Meanwhile, Asian American men had a risk rate of about 11.8.
Those in other ethnicities had an overall work injury rate of about 11 for every 1,000 workers.
These figures were a result of data gleaned from federal work injury information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau on nearly 12 million workers.
Higher work injury rates are associated with a greater chance of disability. However, researchers concluded this is especially true for workers who are older – between the ages of 50 and 64.
But even in this cohort, minorities had higher injury rates. In this case, African American men had the highest rates of injury, at 4.4 percent, while immigrant Hispanic men had an injury rate of 4.2 percent. Older Hispanic men born in the U.S. had an injury rate of 3.5 percent.
Meanwhile, older white men have the lowest rates of disability – 2.5 percent.
Although researchers didn’t speculate as to the disparity as part of the research, the study authors did go on record with various media interviews as saying that minority workers by-and-large have less opportunity than their white counterparts. This prompted workers to accept assignments that were higher risk.
One of the lead authors noted that for more than four decades, black workers were exclusively chosen to work top-side of coke-ovens in steel yards. As a result, they were exposed to extremely high levels of emissions that cause cancer.
Similar stories are nothing new. Ethnic minorities have historically faced some of the worst job conditions within the workforce.
Although there has been significant progress in this respect in the last 60 years, this kind of inequality continues to exist and continues to result in disparate outcomes with regard to worker injuries and workers’ compensation claims.
What’s more, researchers said the full scope of the risk to immigrant and minority workers probably isn’t outlined here because the study focused only on injuries – rather than occupational illnesses.
Contact the Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Minorities face greatest risk of injury, disability on the job, Feb. 9, 2017, Press Release, University of Southern California
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