According to a recent study, racial inequalities may also be reflected in the frequency of workplace injuries and disability. This is particularly true for Hispanic immigrants and African American males, who tend to work jobs that carry the highest injury risk. In many cases, minority workers in Louisiana and nationwide have no choice but to take these high-risk jobs.
Economic disparities and more high-risk jobs are partly to blame
“Disparities in economic opportunities for minorities lead them to take more hazardous jobs that raise their risk of injury and disability,” said Seth Seabury, lead author of the study, as well as director of the Keck-Schaeffer Initiative for Population Health at the University of Southern California.
Injury rates highest for Hispanic immigrants and African American men
The study, conducted by the USC and published in Health Affairs this February, focused primarily on male workers ages 18 to 64. Researchers from the USC Schaeffer Center, the Keck School of Medicine at USC and Boston University found that men who are Hispanic immigrants have the highest workplace injury rate, 13.7 per 1,000 workers, with African American men at more than 12 per 1,000 workers and U.S.-born Hispanic men at just under 12. Compare that to Caucasian men, who have an injury rate of 11.8, Asian-American men at nearly 10 and other ethnicities at a rate of around 11. Injury rates for females were lower overall, but followed similar patterns based on ethnicity.
In this study, researchers analyzed two sets of data. One was the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Surveys from 2006 to 2013, containing 11.6 million respondents. The other was the Bureau of Labor Statistic's Survey of Income and Program Participation from 1996, 2004 and 2008, with 198,000 respondents.
Disability rates were also higher among minority groups
As can be expected, higher rates of workplace injury can also be linked to higher work-related disability rates. Researchers found that this rings especially true for workers ages 50 to 64.
In this age group, African Americans have a 4.4 percent rate of disability, followed by Hispanic immigrants at 4.2 percent, Asian Americans at 4 percent and U.S.-born Hispanics at 3.5 percent. Older Caucasians have the lowest disability rate in this age category, at about 2.5 percent.
Overall job conditions and workplace bias are factors
Although not covered extensively in the study, it is noted that minorities face worse job conditions overall, both historically and in the present day. This is thought to also contribute to health problems as well as injuries.
“The United States has made progress in reducing on-the-job injuries, but our findings indicate that disparities still exist,” stated Seabury. “Minority workers experience worse health.”
Systemic workplace bias was also noted as a factor contributing to worker injury and disability. Not only is there discrimination in hiring and promoting, but also disparities in who gets assigned to the most high-risk work tasks.
Get legal help for your injury or disability
No matter what the circumstances, obtaining workers' compensation or disability assistance is vital to the survival of those who are injured. If you are in this situation, protect your legal rights with help from an experienced attorney.