Awareness of workers comp, safety regulation is troublingly low among immigrant workers

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health asked people at community health centers about workers compensation and OSHA. They drew from a sample of 1,428 persons who had worked within the past year. Average age was 34.8; 66% were born outside the United States. Their employment fairly represents the distribution of immigrant work in Massachusetts.
Findings, as reported by Letitia Davis, of the Occupational Health Surveillance Program, who ran the survey, were:
Nearly 39% of CHC patients reported that they had never heard of workers’ compensation. Awareness of workers’ compensation varied by self-reported race, ethnicity, and place of birth…… Hispanic and Black workers had the lowest reported awareness of workers’ compensation – over 48% of both groups reported never having heard of workers’ compensation before the date of their interview. White workers were the least likely to report (21.1%) that they had never heard of workers’ compensation.
Cross-tabulated by place of birth, workers born in countries other than the United States or Puerto Rico included the highest percentage of persons (51.8%) reporting that they had never heard of workers’ compensation, followed by respondents born in Puerto Rico (41.6%) and the mainland United States (15.3%)…..Awareness also varied by occupational category: lack of awareness of the workers’ compensation system was highest among operators, fabricators and laborers (47%). Managerial and professional specialty workers were least likely (17.0%) to report that they had never heard of workers’ compensation.
The overall percentage of respondents reporting no awareness of OSHA was 62.7%. Awareness varied somewhat by race; over 70% of those reporting their race as Hispanic/Latino had never heard of OSHA. White workers, however, were most likely to report awareness of OSHA (37.7%).
Contact info for Dr. Davis: Letitia.Davis@state.ma.us, (617) 624-5626.

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