Immigrant workers unaware of workers compensation

A recent report out of New Hampshire of immigrant workers reveals a shockingly high level of ignorance about worker compensation benefits and their rights to them.
The key findings include:
366 immigrants completed surveys, and 299 (63%) reported working in the U.S. now or at some point in their lives.
• 229 were surveyed about their experience working in New Hampshire.
• The most common reported job/industry categories were factory, cleaning, food service, farming, service, construction and retail.
• 62% of all respondents were not aware of workers’ compensation
29 respondents, or about 10% of those who have worked in the U.S., noted they had been injured at work. Common body parts affected included hands, fingers, wrists, backs, knees, feet, elbows, and abdominal regions.
The “Occupational Health Surveillance Immigrant Survey Report” of February 2013 was prepared by the Occupational Health Surveillance Program of the Division of Public Health Services, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), in partnership with the New Hampshire Coalition for
Occupational Safety and Health (NH COSH) and the DHHS Office of Minority Health & Refugee Affairs.
This recent study follows a 2006 study. In 2006, NH COSH interviewed 25 immigrant workers who had been injured within the past 3
years. Among this group, there was an overarching issue that workers lacked
information about workers’ compensation and that this hurt them when they tried to obtain benefits. Fifteen of the 25 workers interviewed reported that at the time of their injury they did not know that all of their medical bills were supposed to be paid by workers’ compensation. Six of the 25 people interviewed reported problems
actually getting workers’ compensation to pay medical expenses. At least one additional worker did not try to get medical benefits because he was unaware of the
system. Of the six who had problems, two workers reported that health insurance paid their bills, one worker paid from personal funds, two obtained care through a
community health clinic, and one said the bills were never paid. Four of these workers reported going without treatment at some point due to inability to pay.
The 2013 survey reported included information on the nationality (44% Asian) of the respondents and their education level:
28% of respondents completed some college level training before coming to the U.S.
32% of respondents completed some high school level education.
19% of respondents completed 8 years or less.
12% of respondents received no education.

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