A scaffolding accident occurred on the week of April 16 in downtown Raleigh, leaving three workers dead and another seriously injured. The scaffolding collapsed on the construction site below the 11-story building that was being worked on. All four workers involved in the accident were Hispanic men, and statistics show that Hispanic workers are at a much higher risk of fatality in construction injuries than their non-Hispanic counterparts are.
The deceased workers included two men from Durham, ages 33 and 41, as well as a 33-year-old man from Clinton. The 53-year-old survivor from Durham suffered unspecified injuries. An OSHA investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the accident and is expected to cover topics such as whether the workers were properly trained to operate the machinery involved and whether adequate precautions were taken to ensure their safety.
Work safety advocates have raised concerns that construction accidents such as this could be prevented if Hispanic workers who are present in the country without legal immigration status felt empowered to report workplace safety violations. Even though industry deaths are in decline, falling from 11.5 per 100,000 workers in 2004 to 8.6 per 100,000 in 2013, a representative from the National Council of La Raza advocacy organization explains that immigrant workers are still at risk.
The surviving construction worker may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, which could cover any lost wages from time off work as well as medical costs and compensation for pain and suffering. If the worker wasn’t covered by insurance, the families of the deceased workers may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer. A workers’ compensation lawyer may be able to help the victims’ families receive the fair representation and compensation they deserve for their suffering.