260577 Work Safety Climate and Immigrant Workers in North Carolina

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 12:30 PM - 12:45 PM

Thomas A. Arcury, PhD , Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Joseph G. Grzywacz, PhD , Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Sara A. Quandt, PhD , Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Objectives: Immigrant workers constitute a large component of the US workforce concentrated in industries with high injury and fatality rates. Work safety climate is particularly important for immigrant workers, as they often feel little control of the work environment, seldom complain about unsafe conditions, and ignore risk. This analysis examines safety climate among immigrant workers in three industries and discusses the implications of safety climate for improving their occupational safety.

Methods: Data were collected in separate studies of immigrant farmworkers, construction workers, and poultry processing workers. Each study used the same measure of work safety climate. Differences in safety climate were considered in terms of job and employer. Associations of safety climate with safety behavior and occupational health were examined.

Results: Safety climate varied by job and by employer. For example, construction roofers had a lower safety climate score (19.9) than framers (24.3) or general construction workers (24.3). Safety climate was related to occupational health; among farmworkers, it was inversely related to musculoskeletal discomfort (OR=0.88, CI=0.83,0.94), and working while injured (OR=0.85, CI=0.75,0.94). Safety climate was correlated with such safety behaviors as no glove-safety risks (.21) and not using damaged equipment (.26) among construction workers. It was related to use of PPE, with poultry processing workers who always used hand protection and special footwear rating their safety climate higher. Conclusion: Addressing work safety climate among immigrant workers could improve occupational safety and health. Improvement in safety climate should include training employers in safety and enforcing existing safety regulations.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the levels of work safety climate among immigrant workers, and Discuss the implications of work safety climate for the occupational health and safety of immigrant workers.

Keywords: Immigrants, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Thomas A. Arcury, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and public health scientist with a research program focused on improving the occupational health of rural and minority populations. He has conducted qualitative and quantitative research on the occupational health of Latino immigrant workers, including farmworkers, poultry processing workers, and construction workers, and participated in the development of occupational safety training programs based on this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.