JOEM: Latinos bear disproportionate burden of severe work injuries
While disproportionate occupational injury rates for Latino have been well-documented, there has been limited information about whether that disparity is increasing over time. Eleven years of data from Washington state shows there is a 5 percent mean annual increase in the odds that a work-related traumatic injury was sustained by a Latino.
The researchers say the data indicates falls in industrial/mine/quarry locations were the strongest contributor to increasing disparity.
The researchers looked at data from the Washington State Trauma Registry from 1998 to 2008. Their findings were reported in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
"We found not only a disparity in the burden of work-related traumatic injuries sustained by Latinos relative to non-Latinos but also that the disparity has increased over time," the researchers wrote. They also found Latinos were less likely to have health insurance coverage aside from workers' comp. "This reinforces the need for clinicians to facilitate prompt filing of workers' compensation claims to avoid the potential for delayed or inadequate treatment of occupational injuries due to lack of a payer."
The findings come despite the overall frequency trends in workers' comp rates for the years studied. "Generally speaking, studies have found decreasing or flat trends in occupational injury rates over recent years regardless of ethnicity," the report says, "but there is some evidence suggesting that the relative burden of occupational injuries is increasing for Latinos and foreign-born workers."
Figures from the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries show the percentage of occupational injuries with days away from work sustained by Latinos increased from 7 percent to 15 percent between 1997 and 2004. The department administers workers' comp in Washington.
Previous studies have not identified the specific reasons Latinos sustain a higher rate of workplace injuries even though it "may be due to both higher prevalence of Latinos in more risky industries and occupations and higher rates of injuries for Latinos even within specific industries and occupations," the research states. The increased rates apply to the U.S. as a whole as well as several states, including Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Washington.
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November 1, 2012
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