Occupational Health and Safety Experience of Day Laborers in Seattle, WA


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Abstract

BackgroundDay Labor is a growing part of the informal economy in the US, and in Seattle, and may entail a high risk of injury and illness at work.MethodsWe surveyed 180-day laborers, at two worker centers and an unregulated “Street” location concerning their job-specific exposures and injury experience.ResultsExposures to both health and safety hazards were common at all three sites. After controlling for type of work, immigrant workers were 1.5—2 times more likely than non-immigrant day laborers to report exposure to hazardous conditions. Among the 180 participants 34 reported injuries were classified as “recordable.” We estimated an injury rate of 31 recordable injuries per 100 full time employees. The three hiring locations had differing job experiences and exposures. Those hired through worker centers had a lower risk of exposures, while the Street workers were more likely to refuse hazardous work.ConclusionsDay laborers are exposed to numerous hazards at work, resulting in high injury rates. Multiple approaches including community based organizations which may provide some employment stability and social support for protection at work are needed to reduce occupational injury and illness risk among these vulnerable populations.

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