Latino Immigrant Day Laborer Perceptions of Occupational Safety and Health Information Preferences

Published in: American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2016

Posted on RAND.org on March 02, 2016

by Claudia Diaz, Leonardo Leonardo Martinez Pantoja, Meshawn Tarver, Sandy A. Geschwind, Marielena Lara

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Research Questions

  1. How well do occupational safety standards reach immigrant day laborers in the New Orleans construction industry?
  2. What educational and communications interventions would be best for reaching this population and reducing safety risks?

BACKGROUND: We address immigrant day laborers' experiences with occupational safety in the construction industry in New Orleans, and opinions about content and method of communication for educational interventions to reduce occupational risks. METHODS: In 2011, we conducted seven focus groups with 48 Spanish-speaking day laborers (8 women, 40 men, 35 years on average). Focus group results are based on thematic analysis. RESULTS: Most employers did not provide safety equipment, threatened to dismiss workers who asked for it, and did not provide health insurance. Attitudes toward accepting unsafe work conditions varied. Women faced lower pay and hiring difficulties than men. Day laborers preferred audio format over written, and content about consequences from and equipment for different jobs/exposures. CONCLUSIONS: Day laborers have common occupational experiences, but differences existed by gender, literacy and sense of control over safety. Day laborer information preferences and use of media needs further studying. Med Am. J. Ind. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Key Findings

  • Work opportunities have been eroding since post-Katrina reconstruction; employers tend not to provide safety equipment or health insurance.
  • Workers must choose between working under unsafe conditions or requesting safety equipment (and being discriminated against for doing so).
  • Generally it is more difficult for women to get hired than for men; women are paid less than their male counterparts.
  • Participants identified video and radio communication as a preferred means to reach this population, especially those with low literacy abilities.

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