An interfaith workers' center approach to workplace rights: implications for workplace safety and health.
Cho-CC; Oliva-J; Sweitzer-E; Nevarez-J; Zanoni-J; Sokas-RK
J Occup Environ Med 2007 Mar; 49(3):275-281
BACKGROUND: Over the past decade, fatal occupational injury rates for immigrant workers have increased disproportionately, as have informal and precarious working arrangements. Workers' rights centers have emerged as a response. OBJECTIVE: This descriptive report characterizes an innovative approach to encourage immigrant workers to access federal and state occupational safety and health programs through an interfaith workers' center. METHODS: Existing data obtained by volunteers at time of intake were redacted and imported into a SAS database for secondary analysis. Statistical methods used to evaluate associations between outcome of interest and various characteristics included the chi2 test of association, Fisher exact test of association, and multivariate logistic regression. RESULTS: A total of 934 individual records were reviewed, although for any given item, missing data was a limitation. Among 780 persons reporting their primary language, 75% spoke Spanish, 19% Polish, 4% English, and 1% Other. The following total numbers of formal complaints were filed with each of the following agencies: 110 referred to the state Department of Labor (DOL), 123 to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 65 concerning federal violations of wages and hours, and 47 complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Approximately 37% of the OSHA complaints resulted in a measurable outcome, exceeding the average for all complaints. CONCLUSION: Workers' most frequent concerns focus on pay and discrimination. Recasting occupational safety and health hazards as threats to income and as forms of discrimination may help identify hazards.
Injuries; Occupational-hazards; Racial-factors; Traumatic-injuries; Mortality-rates; Occupational-health-programs; Occupational-safety-programs; Information-systems; Statistical-analysis; Mathematical-models; Workers; Administration; Legislation; Health-standards; Standards; Safety-programs; Employees
Rosemary Sokas, MD, MOH, UIC SPH EOHS, 2121 W. Taylor Street, MC 922, Chicago, IL 60612
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health