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Work-related injuries among immigrant workers.

Xiang-H; Smith-GA; Kelleher-K; Wilkins-J; Lu-B
Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, R01-OH-008639, 2010 Oct; :1-37
Background: Immigrants are an important and fast growing segment of the US population, approximately 12% of the total population. Immigrant workers comprise a sizable proportion of the total US workforce, and their numbers are growing. In recent years, safety and injury prevention at work have been raised as an issue among the US immigrant population, in part, because low skill immigrants are often employed in dangerous sectors such as agriculture and construction industries. Methods: This research project investigated nonfatal injuries and work-related injuries among immigrants and US-born adults in the United States. We used three national probability sample survey data: 1997-2005 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), and 2000-2005 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). The NHIS data were used to compare prevalence and patterns of work-related injuries between immigrant and US-born workers (Specific Aim 1). The NESARC data were used to compare the prevalence of unintentional nonfatal injuries and risk-taking behaviors between immigrant and US-born respondents. The MEPS data were used to study medical expenditures of nonfatal occupational injuries and to describe potential differences between immigrant and US-born workers in medical utilization and expenditures after work-related injuries. Results: Immigrant workers reported a lower rate of work-related injuries than US-born workers, 50/10,000 (95% CI=45-56) versus 89/10,000 (95% CI=86-93). In all industrial categories, foreign-born workers reported a significantly lower rate of work-related injuries than US-born workers. Patterns of work-related injuries with regard to external cause of injury, nature of injury, and injured body region were similar between the two groups. Injury severity measures suggested that foreign-born workers may have suffered more severe injuries than US-born workers. The total annual medical expenditures for work-related injuries were $13.9 billion (95% CI: $12.4-$15.5 billion) for US-born workers (88.5%) and $1.8 billion (95% CI: $1.5-$2.2 billion) for immigrant workers (11.5%). The mean medical expenditures per injured worker were comparable between the two groups ($2066 for the US-born vs. $1956 for immigrant workers). Although 52.3% of the medical expenditures of immigrant workers were office-based, only 38.1% of US-born workers' expenditures were office-based. Immigrant and US born workers paid similar percentages of medical expenditures out-of-pocket. Results from the NESARCH data indicated immigrants were less likely to have risk-taking behaviors than their US-born counterparts, which is perhaps why immigrant workers had a lower work-related injury risk. Conclusions: National health survey data indicated that immigrant workers have an overall lower risk of non-fatal work-related injuries compared with the US-born workers. Injury patterns and medical expenditures of work-related injuries are comparable between two groups. Overall, immigrants are less likely to have risk-taking behaviors than their US-born counterparts.
Humans; Men; Women; Sociological-factors; Demographic-characteristics; Workers; Safety-measures; Injury-prevention; Agriculture; Agricultural-workers; Agricultural-industry; Construction-workers; Construction-industry; Hazards; Risk-factors; Statistical-analysis; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries
Huiyun Xiang, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., The Ohio State University College of Medicine 700 Children's Drive, Columbus, OH 43205
Publication Date
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Final Grant Report
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NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Children's Research Institute, Columbus, Ohio