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Injury often not enough to squelch immigrants’ work ethic, report suggests

A new survey analyzes what health effects immigrants face in the workplace.

Thanks to their work ethic and determination, few things can get in between an immigrant and his ability to send money home to his family, as sickness, poor weather and physical ailments often prove to be no match for their drive and perseverance.

But every now and then, physical disabilities – which may have occurred while on the job – prevent even the most persistent person from being able to head to work on a given day.

With this in mind, the New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health recently released the results of a poll, detailing immigrants and their work safety based on the responses from 366 immigrants, two-thirds of whom responded to the survey.

In addition to getting an idea of how many immigrants have been injured while on the job, the report also provided information on the jobs foreign-born workers are taking on in the Granite State. While immigrants are found in virtually every employment sector, the report found that they were usually in factory sectors, as well as cleaning services, food services, farming, construction and retail.

While all jobs carry a certain level of risk, as accidents can occur even in positions that aren't especially dangerous, a fairly small percentage of immigrants indicated that they were injured while on the job. Of the 10 percent of respondents who said that they had been injured, the most common injuries reported were to the extremities, specifically the hands, fingers, wrists, feet and elbows. There were a small number of injuries to the back and stomach as well among the 29 people who said that they'd been hurt on the job.

Because of immigrants' resilience, it may not come as a surprise as to how many of them stayed in their positions despite their injuries. Approximately seven in 10 respondents said that they "always" or "sometimes" maintained their post for whatever job they were involved with, even though doing so was sometimes tiring or painful.

Immigrants often unaware of workers' compensation
When workers get hurt while working, they are entitled to workers' compensation. Many small business have this type of insurance protection, which enables them to provide payment for their workers should they encounter an injury or illness that prevents them from being able to work.

The study found, though, that many immigrants were not aware that their company had this type of coverage that they could take advantage of. More than 60 percent of immigrants said that they didn't know about workers' compensation.

This report will likely help business owners better understand their employees and why it's important to make them aware of certain protections they have in the event they can't work for health-related reasons.

New Hampshire isn't known for being a major hub for foreign residents, as the immigrant population there is a fraction of what it is in states like Illinois, Florida, California and Texas. But the Granite State is slowly but surely seeing its population become more diverse. According to the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, slightly more than 5 percent of the state's population is made up of immigrants. However, that's a full percentage point higher than in 2000. In addition, the relatively small share of foreign-born residents produced 50 percent of the state's population increase in between 2000 and 2010.

Numbers from the Immigration Policy Center indicate that New Hampshire has 69,700 foreign immigrants currently living within the state, nearly 55 percent of whom have been naturalized.

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