Local News

Advocates Want To Make Workplace Safer For Hispanic Workers

Posted April 4, 2002

— The Latino community makes up 5 percent of North Carolina's population, but on the job, Latinos account for 10 percent of all deaths. Advocates are calling for change to make the workplace safer.

Paul Fritz supervises a four-man construction crew. He said two of his workers barely speak English.

"The worst point scenario is if they get hurt, they can't tell you how they got hurt or where they're hurt," he said. "Most of our crews, we try to keep someone who's bilingual."

Maritza Pearce works with the Hispanic community, helping intregrate them in the community. She said construction sites have a long way to go toward safety and diversity.

"I think the interpretation needs to grow. The employee does not know the OSHA standards," she said.

The most recent accident happened at the Raleigh Country Club Tuesday when an

interior wall collapsed

on Oscar Gonzalez and killed him. He leaves behind a wife and two children in Mexico. He has been the second Hispanic worker killed in the past few days.

"There's no sense in getting someone killed just because they don't understand," Pearce said.

Hispanics make up a little more than five percent of North Carolina's population, but they account for more than 10 percent of workplace deaths this past year and in 2000.

Hispanic advocates say many workplace accidents go un-reported. They believe employers are afraid of immigration problems if they come forward.


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