Latino immigrants and African American men have the highest number of people working dangerous jobs, according to a new study conducted by the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
The researchers found that for men between the ages of 18 and 64, Latino immigrants have the highest percentage of workplace injury with around 13.7 per 1,000 workers. They are followed by African American men with 12.1 per 1,000 and U.S.-born Latino men with nearly 12 per 1,000 workers. Asian American men, and white men averaged below 12 per 1,000 people.
The elevated workplace risk goes hand-in-hand with higher disability rates as well, especially for older workers aged 50 to 64. Within this age bracket, African Americans have a 4.4 percent rate of work-related disability, followed by Latino immigrants at 4.2 percent.
Even accounting for education and demographic characteristics, the difference is due mainly to disparities in economic opportunities for minorities. According to the study, this forces people of color to take more hazardous jobs with a higher risk of disability or injury, according to the study. Some likely factors that may contribute to these disparities include a bias in assigning minority workers the most dangerous tasks or discrimination when it comes to hiring and promotion practices.
Historically, minorities have worked under some of the worst conditions, and though the United States has made tremendous progress in improving safety measures and reducing on-the-job injuries, the findings indicate that disparities do still exist.
However, the study also reported that investing more in lowering injury is expensive and could potentially lead employers to lower wages or curtail job opportunities. The researchers noted that efforts toward increasing workplace safety should not come at the expense of reduced opportunities for already vulnerable minorities.