Majority of undocumented workers surveyed not aware of workers' comp
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health Services' Occupational Health Surveillance Program partnered with the state's Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health and the DHHS Office of Minority Health & Refugee Affairs for the survey. Questionnaires were provided to 366 immigrants in New Hampshire.
"With the increase in immigrants in New Hampshire, it is important to understand how their experience may be different when it comes to public health issues such as workplace safety and health," said Dr. Jose Montero, director of public health at the New Hampshire DHHS. "Little data exists about occupational injury and illness by race, ethnicity, or language, so we felt it was important to conduct this survey. This information will help inform future health policies and programs."
Of those surveyed, the most common reported job/industry categories were factory, cleaning, food service, farming, service, construction, and retail. Sixty-two percent were not aware of workers' comp. About 10 percent of the respondents said they had been injured at work.
New Hampshire provides workers' comp benefits for undocumented workers, including volunteers and sometimes "workers paid in cash 'under the table.'" They are paid for their medical bills associated with the work injury and 60 percent of lost wages after missing more than three days of work.
"The results do suggest unmet needs for occupational health information, resources, and interventions among this vulnerable population," the research states. "Results also suggest that workplace wellness and safety is not only about injuries. It encompasses a wider experience of difficult, dangerous, or tiring conditions that can lead to adverse health outcomes."
The report recommends:
- Increase worker education on workers' comp, providing more information in appropriate languages.
- Enhance the state's COSH training program to focus on worker needs in cases where injuries occur. Reach out to additional communities for training opportunities.
- Provide immigrant outreach workers with information specific to the process for reporting a work-related injury.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
April 8, 2013
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