Work-related non-fatal injuries among foreign-born and US-born workers: Findings from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey, 1997-2005

Xiaofei Zhang, Songlin Yu, Krista Wheeler, Kelly Kelleher, Lorann Stallones, Huiyun Xiang
American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2009, 52 (1): 25-36

BACKGROUND: Millions of foreign-born workers are employed in the US. Population-based surveys have value in describing the non-fatal work-related injuries that these workers suffer.

METHODS: Using data from the 1997-2005 National Health Interview Survey, we compared the rates of non-fatal work-related injuries among foreign-born and US-born adult workers. Logistic regression was used to produce work-related injury odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) by nativity and years of residence while controlling for sex, age, race/ethnicity, education, poverty, family size, insurance status, delayed medical care, and alcohol use. Industry-specific rates were also compared.

RESULTS: Foreign-born workers reported a lower rate of work-related injuries than US-born workers, 50 per 10,000 foreign-born workers versus 89 per 10,000 US-born workers (P < 0.01). After controlling for confounding variables, the OR of work-related injuries for foreign-born workers as compared to US-born workers was 0.50 (95% CI = 0.38-0.66). The construction, agriculture/forestry and fisheries, and manufacturing industries had the highest work-related injury rates for both groups of workers.

CONCLUSIONS: Foreign-born workers had a lower overall rate of work-related injury when compared to US-born workers. Both US-born and foreign-born workers face significant injury risks, especially in certain industries. Interventions tailored with ethnic and cultural differences in mind are still warranted.

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