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Occupational health and safety experiences among self-identified immigrant workers living or working in Somerville, MA by ethnicity, years in the US, and English proficiency.

Panikkar B; Woodin MA; Brugge D; Desmarais AM; Hyatt R; Goldman R; Pirie A; Goldstein-Gelb M; Galvão H; Chianelli M; Vasquez I; McWhinney M; Dalembert F; Gute DM
Int J Environ Res Public Health 2012 Dec; 9(12):4452-4469
In this community based research initiative, we employed a survey instrument predominately developed and administered by Teen Educators to assess occupational health risks for Haitian, Salvadoran, and Brazilian immigrants (n = 405) in Somerville, Massachusetts, USA. We demonstrate that a combined analysis of ethnicity, years in the US, and English proficiency better characterized the occupational experience of immigrant workers than considering these variables individually. While years in the US (negatively) and English proficiency (positively) explained the occurrence of health risks, the country of origin identified the most vulnerable populations in the community. Brazilians, Salvadorans, and other Hispanic, all of whom who have been in the US varying length of time, with varying proficiency in English language had twice the odds of reporting injuries due to work compared to other immigrants. Although this observation was not significant it indicates that years in the US and English proficiency alone do not predict health risks among this population. We recommend the initiation of larger studies employing community based participatory research methods to confirm these differences and to further explore work and health issues of immigrant populations. This study is one of the small number of research efforts to utilize a contemporaneous assessment of occupational health problems in three distinct immigrant populations at the community level within a specific Environmental Justice context and social milieu.
Workers; Worker-health; Racial-factors; Occupational-health; Demographic-characteristics; Sociological-factors; Health-surveys; Health-services; Speech-transmission; Risk-factors; Statistical-analysis; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Health-hazards; Medical-research; Environmental-protection; Environmental-health; Author Keywords: occupational health disparities; immigrant health; community based participatory research; environmental justice
Bindu Panikkar, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
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Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts
Page last reviewed: December 4, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division