Working Conditions, Occupational Injuries, and Health Among Filipino Fish Processing Workers in Dutch Harbor, Alaska

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Abstract

This study explored how unique environmental conditions in Alaska influenced occupational health and safety for Filipino fish processing workers, many of whom migrated from warm locations (e.g., the Philippines, California, and Nevada). In-depth interviews were conducted with 26 Filipino workers in one commercial fish processing company in Dutch Harbor. Results indicated that cold weather interferes with workers’ job performance, increasing their risk for injury and illness, whereas the community’s isolation and rural nature causes loneliness and boredom, resulting in more high-risk behaviors. Other non-environmental factors affecting worker health include roommate and supervisor concerns and culture-specific practices. Findings suggest the importance of job rotation to avoid long exposures to cold temperatures, the value of a designated individual to inform workers about company and community resources that promote healthy lifestyles, and the possible utility of a joint worker–management safety committee.

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