Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have partnered up with researches from other agencies and organizations address the needs, challenges, and opportunities for improving workplace safety and health for underserved worker populations in a special February 2010 issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, "Occupational Health Disparities."
NIOSH reports, " Low-wage, low-skilled, and immigrant workers face disproportionately high risks for work-related injuries and illnesses in comparison with the U.S. workforce in general. They also encounter significant barriers in accessing training and education programs, health care systems, and legal protections that are critical for mitigating those risks."
Special Issue of Journal
"This special issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine adds to our knowledge by examining occupational health disparities and inequities immigrant and other workers face, and measuring the extent of the problem," U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis states in a Foreword to the issue. "In addition to helping address the need for better data, this research promises to create new knowledge that can be used to improve the lives of our nation's workers."
Occupational health surveillance must be enhanced and improved to describe the nature and extent of disparities in occupational illnesses and injuries (including fatalities), identify priorities for research and intervention, and evaluate trends. This is a priority of NIOSH and its partners under the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). Serious shortcomings in current surveillance systems include an undercounting of what research suggests to be the true incidence of work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths, and a lack of information in key datasets that would allow users to identify incidence and trends in cases by race, ethnicity, and place of birth.