The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed a rule in March of 2022 that would require certain employers to electronically submit incident-specific data on workplace injuries and illnesses and would require OSHA to publish some of the reported data.
On June 30, on behalf of Unidos US, Farmworker Justice, and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, we submitted a comment supporting the rule and describing how the rule will improve equitable access to safe working environments for Latino workers. The comment urges OSHA to include race and ethnicity in the data collection and to make the new data available in an accessible, searchable, and sortable format that will enable people to meaningfully analyze patterns and identify needs. The comment also requests that OSHA direct enforcement efforts to workplaces frequented by Latinos.
Latino workers suffer disproportionate rates of workplace injuries and fatalities in part because they are overrepresented in two particularly high-risk industries – farmwork and construction – which have the first and third highest rates, respectively, of workplace fatalities of any U.S. industry. Seventy-eight percent of all farmworkers identify as Hispanic, and at least 34% of workers in the construction industry are Hispanic. Currently available data on workplace fatalities and injuries affecting these groups is aggregated so broadly as to be unhelpful to organizations seeking to identify and address specific workplace hazards. For example, it is impossible to know how many or which farmworkers suffer heat related illnesses because the data is currently aggregated under “exposure to harmful substances or environments.” The proposed rule will provide more specificity and allow organizations like the commenters to make a real difference in workplace safety.
Workers who are undocumented or have temporary work visas are especially reluctant to report workplace safety violations because they fear retaliation from their employers. By placing the case-specific reporting burden on the employer, the Proposed Rule would allow OSHA to take necessary steps to protect workers without subjecting them to additional risks of retaliation.
Read the comment here.