U.S. Insurers Can Honor Hispanic Heritage More Authentically By Doing This
Foresight, a leading workers' compensation insurtech, puts the spotlight on why Hispanic workers are more likely to be injured on the job, and how insurers can respond.
By Emilio Figueroa and Christine Garza, Foresight
It has been heartening to see the many shows of support for Hispanic heritage on social media during the first two weeks of Hispanic Heritage month (September 15-October 15, 2021). As leaders at Foresight Commercial Insurance who are deeply proud of our Mexican heritage, we see this acknowledgement as a step forward in an industry where Latinx workers have worked hard and still work hard to gain representation in managerial roles and in the boardroom.
Foresight is a leading insurtech in the Workers Compensation space, so safety is always on our mind. That is why this summer, a troubling report on Texas Public Radio grabbed our attention, and we couldn’t stop thinking about it. It reported that both before and after the Covid-19 pandemic, “Latino workers are at higher risk of workplace injuries and death, with a rate of 4 injuries per 100,000 workers, compared to 3.5 for all workers.”
Imagine going to work in a high-risk role where potentially life-saving safety training was conducted in a language other than your native tongue.
According to J.R. Gonzales of the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce, those numbers have been climbing over the past few years. “In 2017, there were 903 deaths of Latinos in the workplace,” Gonzales said. “In 2018, it rose to 961. And in 2019 it was 1,088. It’s skewing upwards.”
The 2020 Census reflected that Latinx people accounted for more than 50% of the population growth, so it makes sense that there is a growing share of Latinx workers in the workforce. Particularly noteworthy, though, is the growth of the share of Latinx workers in dangerous jobs. At Foresight, many of these industries—construction, arboriculture, farm labor—are at the heart of what we do and in the “sweet spot” of our appetite. And as we keep our eyes on trends impacting these industries, we can see that many of these dangerous jobs are becoming more dangerous.
According to a Rutgers study on Arborists, “As climate change increases the risk to trees from severe storms, insects, diseases, drought and fire, a Rutgers University study highlights the need for improved safety in tree-care operations. And findings published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine showed that “workers employed by tree care experts and licensed arborists were more likely to receive health and safety training and to use personal protective equipment than those employed by companies that are not part of the professional arboriculture network. The research also shows that Spanish-speaking day laborers often had little training or use of personal protective equipment.”
Imagine going to work in a high-risk role where potentially life-saving safety training was conducted in a language other than your native tongue. Many Latinx workers that this nation depends on don’t have to imagine—that is their reality.
If an injury or incident occurs, and training that could have prevented the incident was only covered verbally and not documented in writing (and in the employee’s spoken language), it may constitute an OSHA violation.
One Foresight broker recently shared with us that a lack of Spanish language translation in a company’s training materials can put clients out of step with OSHA. If an injury or incident occurs, and training that could have prevented the incident was only covered verbally and not documented in writing (and in the employee’s spoken language), it may constitute an OSHA violation, even if the employee verifies to OSHA that they received verbal training on the subject.
Foresight has exclusively partnered with our sister company Safesite to provide easy-to-use risk management tools to policyholders. The Safesite app and template library, which includes hundreds of inspections and meetings, are available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. In addition, 24/7 customer support is available in Spanish. By offering safety management tools and templates in employees’ primary languages, Safesite not only fulfills OSHA’s directive that safety training be presented in the language the worker best understands but also contributes to a robust and representative safety culture. Foresight and Safesite also take requests for additional language translations.
This should be table stakes for our industry, and for every industry. It is long past time for safety at work to be equitable and accessible to all.
As senior leaders within Foresight who represent the Latinx community, we have the support of our company and our colleagues in voicing our call for equity and access to safety information for native Spanish speakers. Today, we are asking every insurance company to join us in committing to this potentially lifesaving cause. Let’s put meaningful action behind the social media posts about Hispanic Heritage Month, and serve our clients and community through safety. This is real change that all of us can be a part of which would truly honor Hispanic Heritage.
Emilio Figueroa is Chief Insurance Officer at Foresight, and Christine Garza is VP of Business Development at Foresight.