Study Highlights Hispanics' Workplace Woes

September 24, 2003 ( - Hispanics die more frequently on the job and lose more workdays due to injuries and illness than employees from other ethnic groups, a new study has found.

The study by Circadian Technologies, a Lexington, Massachusetts-based consultant specializing in companies with extended hours operations, also found that Hispanics are less likely to see a doctor or have health insurance and suffer higher prevalence of diabetes, obesity and hypertension. All that is complicated by the large number of Hispanics working long hours and juggling the demands of a second job, the study said.

Acacia Aguirre, Circadian medical director and principal author of the study, said the higher rates of fatalities and injuries may be tied to language barriers, greater employment in industries with high accident rates such as construction, and fear of retribution over reporting safety issues to supervisors or government agencies. Circadian focuses on clients with operations outside the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Among the principal findings of Challenges Confronting Hispanic Extended Hours Employees and Their Employers were:

  • Hispanic workers accounted for 15% of workplace fatalities in 2002, even though they comprised only 12% of the US workforce. Overall US workplace fatalities declined to 4.0 per 100,000 workers in 2002 from 5.2 per 100,000 in 1992, while fatalities among Hispanic workers rose 57% to 840 in 2002 from 533 in 1992. Hispanic women also had a higher incidence of workplace injury – nearly twice the rate of Hispanic men – despite the fact that women overall have lower rates of workplace injury than men.
  • Workdays lost due to injury and illness among all US workers declined 7.6% from 2000 to 2001 yet rose 3.2% among Hispanics. This problem is more acute in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, where Hispanic employment decreased 12.6% while workdays lost to injuries and illnesses increased 20.0% within this population.
  • While Hispanic residents now comprise approximately 13.0% of the total US population, they represent one third of the 41 million Americans with no health insurance. Moreover, about one-third of Hispanics are uninsured, a rate three times higher than for non-Hispanic whites.
  • Hispanics are also less likely to undergo screening for major diseases such as cancer and diabetes, even though, in 2001, an alarming 24% of one subgroup, Mexican-Americans aged 45 to 74, suffered from diabetes, compared with 7.9% of the general US population. Hispanics also suffer from more severe forms of diabetes, the fastest growing disease in the US, and experience higher mortality rates than whites.

An executive summary of the study can be obtained by contacting Circadian Media Relations Coordinator Tracy Maddaloni at 781-676-6900 or .