U.S. poultry processing workers experience a disproportionate share of occupational injuries and illness compared to workers in other industries. Recent trends in this industry have resulted in a worker population that is poor, minority, and increasingly comprised of immigrants. Little research documents the onset of occupational injuries among immigrants in the poultry processing industry, the progression of these occupational injuries, or the occupational and personal characteristics associated with these occupational injuries. The overall goal of this research study is to document the nature and sources of occupational injuries among minority poultry processing workers. It follows several years of community participatory research by this team with workers in the target communities, in which a sampling frame has been developed.
The specific aims are: (1) to compare the prevalence of selected musculoskeletal (MSDs) and skin disorders among Latino poultry processing workers and controls (non-poultry, Latino manual laborers), and assess the mediating and moderating effects of occupational (task, shift), structural (income, education, access to healthcare), and socio- cultural (ethnicity, beliefs, values, acculturation) factors on these disorders;(2) to document the development of selected MSDs and skin disorders and assess the mediating and moderating effects of occupational, structural, and socio-cultural factors on this development;(3) to delineate the impact of selected MSDs and skin disorders on workers'and controls'health-related quality of life, both cross-sectionally and over time;and (4) to determine the interpretation of occupational illness and injury symptomatology, self-care behaviors, and barriers to prevention, treatment seeking, and reporting among workers.
These specific aims will be achieved using a linked cohort and ethnographic design, combining qualitative and quantitative research methods. 276 immigrant poultry workers with experience in processing line work = 3 yr and 276 controls will be recruited. Data collected will include physical examination, nerve conduction, wrist ultrasound, and interview. 133 disease free new hires and 133 controls will be interviewed again at 6 months, and the complete examination at 12 months. 30 workers who have experienced progressive musculoskeletal injury or dermatological illness will be recruited for in-depth interviews based on an """"""""explanatory models of illness"""""""" framework.
Poultry processing workers experience high rates of injuries, but good estimates of the number and types of injuries are unavailable. This study will provide such data, as well as information on the causes and consequences of these injuries. Such research will provide the basis of future efforts to reduce disparities in occupational injuries in the fastest growing segment of the meat processing industry through education and enforcement.
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