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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 303–311 | Cite as

The occupational health and safety vulnerability of recent immigrants accessing settlement services

  • A. Morgan Lay
  • Agnieszka Kosny
  • Anjana Aery
  • Karl Flecker
  • Peter M. Smith
Quantitative Research

Abstract

Objective

To compare occupational health and safety (OHS) vulnerability of recent Canadian immigrants and workers born in Canada.

Methods

Recent immigrants (n = 195) were recruited at four settlement agencies in Southern Ontario, and non-immigrants in Ontario (n = 1030) were contacted by phone and email by a third-party survey provider. The questionnaire measured OHS vulnerability using a 27-item measure and collected sociodemographic and workplace information. Responses were used to evaluate one overall and three specific (policy and procedure, awareness, and empowerment) measures of OHS vulnerability. Log-binomial models compared the overall and policy and procedure-, awareness- and empowerment-related vulnerability of recent immigrants to non-immigrant workers. Models were adjusted for demographic and workplace characteristics.

Results

New immigrants experience statistically elevated levels of overall (adjusted risk ratio [ARR] = 1.60, 95% CI 1.23–2.07) and empowerment-related vulnerability (ARR = 1.54, 95% CI 1.09–2.17). Compared to workers born in Canada, immigrants also report elevated levels of policy and procedure vulnerability (ARR = 1.37, 95% CI 0.98–1.92), although this estimate did not meet traditional criteria for statistical significance.

Conclusions

This study uses a novel multi-dimensional measure to identify how differences in workplace context place recent immigrant workers at increased risk of work-related injury or illness. Recent immigrant workers experience increased risk of OHS vulnerability. In particular, this vulnerability results from exposure to hazards in combination with inadequate levels of empowerment to protect themselves in the workplace. Policy-makers, advocates, and employers should implement strategies that not only build workplaces where occupational hazards are minimized but also ensure immigrant workers are empowered to act on their workplace rights and engaged to improve workplace safety.

Keywords

Emigrants and immigrants Occupational health Vulnerable populations Worker 

Résumé

Objectifs

Comparer la vulnérabilité des travailleurs récemment immigrés au Canada et des travailleurs nés au Canada sur le plan de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (SST).

Méthode

Des immigrants récents (n = 195) ont été recrutés dans quatre organismes d’établissement nationaux situés dans le Sud de l’Ontario, et des non-immigrants de l’Ontario (n = 1030) ont été contactés par téléphone et par courriel par une entreprise de sondages externe. Un questionnaire a mesuré la vulnérabilité des répondants sur le plan de la SST à l’aide de 27 questions et recueilli des données sociodémographiques et sur le lieu de travail. Les réponses ont servi à évaluer trois indicateurs particuliers (politiques et procédures, connaissance et autonomisation) et un indicateur général de la vulnérabilité sur le plan de la SST. Des modèles log-binomiaux ont permis de comparer la vulnérabilité générale des travailleurs récemment immigrés à celle des travailleurs non immigrants, ainsi que leur vulnérabilité respective sur le plan des politiques et procédures, de la connaissance et de l’autonomisation. Les modèles ont été ajustés en fonction des caractéristiques démographiques et du lieu de travail.

Résultats

Les nouveaux immigrants présentent des niveaux statistiquement élevés de vulnérabilité générale (risque relatif ajusté [RRA] = 1,60, IC de 95% 1,23–2,07) et de vulnérabilité liée à l’autonomisation (RRA = 1,54, IC de 95% 1,09–2,17). Comparativement aux travailleurs nés au Canada, les immigrants font aussi état de niveaux élevés de vulnérabilité liée aux politiques et procédures (RRA = 1,37, IC de 95% 0,98–1,92), mais cette estimation ne respecte pas les critères habituels de signification statistique.

Conclusions

L’étude emploie un nouvel indicateur pluridimensionnel pour déterminer si les différences sur le lieu de travail présentent des risques accrus d’accidents du travail ou de maladies professionnelles pour les travailleurs récemment immigrés. Ces travailleurs sont plus vulnérables sur le plan de la SST. Cette vulnérabilité résulte en particulier de la combinaison de leur exposition aux risques professionnels et de leurs niveaux d’autonomisation insuffisants pour les en protéger. Les responsables des politiques, les défenseurs des droits et les employeurs devraient appliquer des stratégies qui ne font pas que créer des lieux de travail où les risques professionnels sont réduits, mais qui habilitent aussi les immigrants à faire valoir leurs droits en milieu de travail et à participer à l’amélioration de la sécurité au travail.

Mots-clés

Émigrants et immigrants Santé au travail Populations vulnérables Travailleur 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Morgan Lay
    • 1
  • Agnieszka Kosny
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Anjana Aery
    • 4
  • Karl Flecker
    • 5
  • Peter M. Smith
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Work & HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Alfred HospitalMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Wellesley InstituteTorontoCanada
  5. 5.KEYS Job CentreKingstonCanada

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