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Work Place Dangers Are Greater For Hispanics Than For Other Ethnic Groups Problems Compounded By Less Access To Regular Health Care
September 23, 2003
LEXINGTON, Mass., Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- On-the-job fatalities and work days lost due to injuries and illnesses among U.S. workers of Hispanic origin are more frequent than among workers from other ethnic groups. Compounding these problems, Hispanic workers are less likely to get regular medical care or have health insurance, and suffer higher prevalence of diabetes, obesity and hypertension, all complicated by a higher number of work hours and frequent second jobs, according to a newly issued report by Circadian Technologies, Inc.
"The well being of Hispanic workers is an issue that should be of greater concern to policy makers and employers given the dramatic growth of the U.S. Hispanic population and the financial pressures this group brings to the health care system-impacting employers, insurance companies and Medicare," said Acacia Aguirre, M.D., Ph.D., Circadian medical director and principal author of Challenges Confronting Hispanic Extended Hours Employees and Their Employers.
Aguirre, who advocates the need for more studies to evaluate interventions to reduce the alarming injury trends affecting Hispanic workers, said the higher rates of fatalities and injuries may be tied to language barriers, greater employment in industries with high accident rates such as construction, and fear of retribution over reporting safety issues to supervisors or government agencies. She noted that in some cases, companies have achieved a significant reduction in work place injuries through Spanish-language programs and other training efforts.
Among the principal findings of Challenges Confronting Hispanic Extended Hours Employees and Their Employers, U.S. Hispanics are more prone to:
Work-related fatalities -- Hispanic workers accounted for 15 percent of work place fatalities in 2002, even though they comprised only 12 percent of the U.S. work force. Overall U.S. work place fatalities declined to 4.0 per 100,000 workers in 2002 from 5.2 per 100,000 in 1992, while fatalities among Hispanic workers rose 57 percent to 840 in 2002 from 533 in 1992. In addition, Hispanic women had a higher incidence of work place injury-nearly twice the rate of Hispanic men, despite the fact that women overall have lower rates of work place injury than men.
Debilitating injuries and illnesses -- Work days lost due to injury and illness among all U.S. workers declined 7.6 percent from 2000 to 2001 yet rose 3.2 percent among Hispanics. This problem is more acute in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, where Hispanic employment decreased 12.6 percent while work days lost to injuries and illnesses increased 20 percent within this population.
Less medical access -- While Hispanic residents now comprise approximately 13 percent of the total U.S. population, they represent one third of the 41 million Americans with no health insurance. Moreover, about one-third of Hispanics are uninsured, a rate three times higher than for non-Hispanic whites. According to a 2002 study, nearly one third of U.S. Hispanics had not seen a physician in the past year, compared with 16 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12 percent of African-Americans. Hispanics also tend to have fewer physician visits and are less likely to seek follow-up care after being treated in the emergency department.
Severe medical conditions -- Hispanics are also less likely to undergo screening for major diseases such as cancer and diabetes, even though, in 2001, an alarming 24 percent of one subgroup, Mexican-Americans aged 45 to 74, suffered from diabetes, compared with 7.9 percent of the general U.S. population. Hispanics also suffer from more severe forms of diabetes, the fastest growing disease in the U.S., and experience higher mortality rates than whites. Also, despite the relative youth of the Hispanic population, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among U.S. Hispanics.
Issues affecting Hispanic workers are of special interest to Circadian, which specializes in increasing corporate profitability and productivity by improving employee well being in businesses with operations running outside the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. With many Hispanic workers holding more than one job, they are essentially extended hours employees, Aguirre said.
The discrepancy of hours worked per week, when comparing Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers, is especially significant among workers who moonlight at a second job, Aguirre said. For example:
* Hispanic workers holding two jobs worked 40.8 hours per week at their primary job and 16.7 hours at a second job, with fully 30 percent of moonlighting Hispanics working five days per week at their second job.
* Non-Hispanics work an average of 33.9 hours per week at a primary job and 16.8 hours at a second job, but only 17 percent work five days per week at their second job.
Many Hispanic workers hold more than one job for financial reasons, Aguirre said. Only one quarter of Hispanic workers have jobs paying $35,000 or more annually, compared with 54 percent of non-Hispanic white workers. Among extended hours workers surveyed, fewer than one in five Hispanics have an annual family income above $60,000 compared with more than one in three non-Hispanics.
"In some respects, U.S. Hispanics have healthier lifestyle behaviors than non-Hispanics, with Hispanic women in particular showing far lower rates of smoking and alcohol consumption. But lack of continuous access to health care and difficulties communicating with providers are resulting in lower utilization of screening tests for major diseases and fewer therapeutic procedures," Aguirre said. Health problems that are prevalent within this group are exacerbated by lifestyle challenges of over-work, family commitments and a tendency to seek medical attention only when conditions are much more advanced than in other populations.
Aguirre emphasized that U.S. Hispanics are not a homogeneous group. They have significant cultural differences depending upon whether they or their families are originally from Mexico, Central America, Puerto Rico, South America, Cuba or another Spanish-speaking country or region. Moreover, the Hispanic population is relatively young compared with the overall U.S. population: one-third are under age 18 compared with 23 percent of whites.
In addition to Spanish language programs and other training efforts aimed at improving work place safety, Circadian also recommends that employers consider other programs designed to lower overall health care costs, improve employee health and make work places safer. These include: medical assessments of at-risk workers (particularly those working extended hours), disease management efforts, health promotion programs, and other safety activities aimed at this growing population.
An executive summary of Challenges Confronting Hispanic Extended Hours Employees and Their Employers can be obtained by contacting Circadian Media Relations Coordinator Tracy Maddaloni at 781-676-6900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Circadian Technologies, Inc.
Circadian is the leading international research and consulting firm assisting companies with extended hours operations to improve profits by increasing productivity and reducing the increased costs, risks, and liabilities of human factors. Circadian's mission is to empower its clients to effectively use extended operations to compete in the global 24/7 economy. Extended hours operations encompass all work environments with irregular schedules, night and evening shifts, or extended hours, typically outside the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Since its incorporation by Dr. Martin Moore-Ede in 1983, more than half the Fortune 1000 has benefited by working with Circadian. For more information, visit http://www.circadian.com/.
CONTACT: Tracy Maddaloni of Circadian Technologies, Inc.,+1-781-676-6924, email@example.com; or Mary Conway for CircadianTechnologies, Inc., +1-617-244-9682, firstname.lastname@example.org