During 2014 alone, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that a total of 874 U.S. construction workers were killed in job-related accidents. Regular readers of this blog are likely familiar with the many and varied safety issues with which construction workers must contend on a daily basis. Among the most vulnerable of these workers are those who have immigrated to the U.S. and often speak little to no English.
In addition to the language and communication barriers these predominately young and male construction workers face, they are also frequently subject to exploitation by employers who take advantage of their immigration status.
Recently, family members and friends of a 26-year-old construction worker named Pedro Bacilio, gathered to honor his memory. On Oct. 30, Bacilio, who came to the U.S. seven years ago from his native Mexico, was killed when the building he and other members of a construction crew were demolishing suddenly collapsed and crashed to the ground.
Bacilio was killed in the collapse and another 29-year-old worker was critically injured. An investigation into the circumstances that may have lead to the building's collapse is still pending. The day prior to the collapse, an engineer who inspected the work site ordered that work be stopped until "the building could be shored up." City officials note, however, that they had not, "issued any stop-work orders," related to the project.
At Bacilio's funeral, a priest prayed "for all immigrants," as well as "stronger laws to protect the most vulnerable." Sadly, these or similar words are likely uttered at the funerals of the hundreds of Latino and Hispanic construction workers who are fatally injured at construction sites throughout the U.S. each year.
Source: The New York Times, "Midtown Manhattan Building Collapse Leaves One Dead," Marc Santora, Oct. 30, 2015
DNA info, "Friends Remember Construction Worker Killed in Midtown Building Collapse," Gwynne Hogan, Nov. 9, 2015
NBC News, "Worker Deaths Decline, But Not For Latinos, Says AFL-CIO Report," Griselda Nevarez, April 29, 2015