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Black, Hispanic workers less likely to speak out on safety: Report

Black, Hispanic workers less likely to speak out on safety: Report

Black and Hispanic workers are more likely to be injured at work and “psychological safety” is among the reasons such groups are unlikely to report unsafe conditions, according to a study released Monday by the National Safety Council.

In studying safety practices in the context of diversity, equity and inclusion, and the prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries among minority groups, NSC found that so-called voice suppression can “prove particularly harmful to employees of color, as they may already perceive their voices and opinions as less valued than the majority group.”

As a result, “Black and Hispanic workers report the most unease about reporting unsafe work conditions when compared to other racial and ethnic groups,” the Itasca, Illinois-based nonprofit advocacy group reported.

In addition, other research – such as that conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor — found that fear of income and job loss spurs the discomfort in reporting unsafe practices and, in some cases, injuries, the report said.

The report also highlighted Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that such groups are more likely to work in high-risk occupations, with 24% of Hispanics, 21% of non-Hispanic Blacks, 20% of American Indians/Alaska Natives, 22% of foreign-born workers and 26% of workers with no more than a high school education employed in fields with high injury rates. This compares with 13% of white workers and 9% of workers with higher than a high school level of education in high-risk occupations.

The report said companies should provide improved and anonymous reporting procedures for all workers and communicate such protocols often. It also suggests that companies should be “mindful of jobs that demand high exertions, awkward or sustained postures, and a fast pace and eliminate them when able.”