Online Program

A local perspective on a global challenge: Health and safety perceptions and practices of immigrant workers in Wisconsin's dairy industry

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.

Amy K. Liebman, MPA, MA, Migrant Clinicians Network, Salisbury, MD
Patricia M. Juárez-Carrillo, PhD, MPH, Center for Inter-American and Border Studies, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
Iris Anne Reyes, MPH, National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI
Francisco Guerrero Silva, National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI
Matthew Keifer, MD, MPH, National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI
Modern agricultural production depends on a global workforce that largely consists of immigrant workers. Immigrant workers in agriculture is a global phenomenon. As the Wisconsin dairy industry modernizes, Hispanic immigrant workers play an increasingly important role. These workers, representing 40% to 60% of Wisconsin's dairy workforce, enter one of the most dangerous industries in the US. Large animals, mass animal production processes and machinery contribute to high rates of injury and illness in dairy. International, national and regional organizations partnered to design a culturally relevant intervention to improve health and safety in dairy. The design of this intervention involved a multifaceted needs assessment consisting of key informant interviews with 14 farmers, clinicians, industry representatives, five focus groups with 37 dairy workers and one with 17 agricultural extension agents. The assessment included a literature review and site visits to dairy farms. Findings demonstrate an overwhelming need to focus on health and safety in dairy. Results include discrepancies between farmer and worker perception of risk, lack of farmer knowledge regarding regulations and safety practices and farmer desire to make farms safer. Workers offered new insights regarding their understanding of hazards, employment and injury experiences. They confirmed they had limited to no health and safety training and expressed strong interest in receiving training. Workers showed limited understanding of workers' compensation and rights, feared job loss and expressed willingness to take risks to stay employed. Participants noted workplace challenges due to language and cultural differences.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Occupational health and safety
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe immigrant worker perspective regarding health and safety in dairy. Identify differences in perceptions between workers and farmers regarding occupational health and safety in dairy.

Keyword(s): Agricultural Work Safety, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My career is devoted to improving the health/safety disenfranchised populations. I serve as Director of Environmental and Occupational Health for Migrant Clinicians Network. With MCN, I established a national initiative to reduce risks associated with environmental/occupational hazards by improving clinical knowledge and practices as well as community outreach and education. I’ve also been a national leader in bringing the culturally appropriate approaches such as promotores de salud to EOH efforts to educate workers and communities.
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.