NIOSH Study Reports Lower Workplace Injury Rates for Foreign-Born Workers

A new study funded by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that foreign-born workers reported a lower rate of non-fatal work-related injuries than U.S.-born workers, based on data collected from the National Health Interview Survey from 1997 to 2005.

The study, conducted by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and released in the current edition of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, found that while the rate of injury was lower among foreign-born workers, the severity of the injuries they did sustain was greater. Injuries to foreign-born workers were more likely to result in hospitalization and 6 or more days of missed work than injuries to U.S.-born workers.

“With immigrant workers comprising a significant portion of workers in the United States, it’s important that we identify the needs of foreign-born workers and address safety issues facing them in the workplace,” said Huiyan Xiang, M.D., MPH, Ph.D., principle investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Using this information will help to develop occupational safety guidelines specifically for foreign-born workers.”

The study also examined non-fatal work-related injuries in general. Overall, the construction, manufacturing and agriculture/forestry and fisheries industries had the highest rates for work-related injuries in both foreign- and U.S.-born workers. In each of these industries, the injury rate was lower among foreign-born workers than U.S.-born workers but the severity of injuries was similar. Overexertion and falls were the two most common external causes of injury for both foreign-born and U.S.-born workers. Results also showed that Hispanic workers had higher overall work-related injuries than African Americans and Asians but these rates were still lower than the rates of non-Hispanic Whites.

For more information about The Center for Injury Research and Policy, visit http://www.injurycenter.org/.

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