Immigrant dairy workers have higher rates of work injuries

Researchers interviewed immigrant dairy workers in Colorado. 29% had sustained at least one work injury in the past year (official government average for diary workers is 6%). About 60% were caused by cows. A third did not tell their supervisor. Only 20% received medical care. One third had not received any safety training. Half had not told their doctor that they worked at a dairy farm.

Background: Studies of work injuries worldwide show a consistent pattern of higher occupational morbidity and mortality among immigrant workers.

A study of occupational fatalities of Hispanic construction workers in the U.S. from 1992 to 2000 found that Hispanics constituted 15% of construction workers in 2000 but suffered 23.5% of fatal construction injuries.

Global data on immigration and occupational injury are limited but tend to confirm the findings from U.S. studies. An Australian study of occupational fatalities found increased rates among foreign-born workers within 5 years of immigration.

Many investigators have speculated on the causes of increased occupational fatalities among immigrant workers. Common explanations include the assignment of more hazardous tasks to immigrant workers, failure of employers to invest in safety training and equipment, greater
risk-taking by immigrant workers, and failure to complain about unsafe conditions by workers who may have precarious job status.

(Dairy information from Lauren Mengre-Ogle et al, Occupational safety and health of foreign born Latinx dairy workers in Colorado. American Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine January 2019. Background information from Marc Shenker, A global perspective of migration and occupational Health. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2010)

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