Latino immigrant and African American men are at the highest risk for workplace injury, according to a new study out of the University of Southern California.
“Disparities in economic opportunities for minorities lead them to take more hazardous jobs that raise their risk of injury and disability,” said lead author Seth Seabury, director of the Keck-Schaeffer Initiative for Population Health at USC.
Higher risk for workplace injury also increases risk of disability. The study found that among workers ages 50-64, African Americans had the highest risk of work-related disability at 4.4 percent, followed closely by foreign-born Latinos, Asian Americans, and U.S.-born Latinos. Older whites had the lowest risk of work-related disability at about 2.5 percent.
The study noted that, historically, discrimination has affected worker safety. It cited researcher J. William Lloyd’s discovery more than 40 years ago that African American steel workers were forced to work the top-side of the coke ovens, which resulted in a higher exposure to cancerous emissions.
“Based on our findings, policy makers and regulators may need to review whether employers are systematically assigning people of different races and ethnicities different jobs or job tasks according to their risk,” the USC researchers concluded.