Special Issue "Migration, Work and Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Occupational Safety and Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2019.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Stefano Porru Website E-Mail
Department of Diagnostics and Public Health, Section of Occupational Health, University of Verona, Italy
Unit of Occupational Medicine, University Hospital Borgo Roma, Verona, Italy
Interests: occupational cancer; occupational injuries; immigration and work; etiological diagnosis of work-related diseases; biohazards in workplaces; workers' health surveillance and fitness for work

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, the increasing global number of migrant workers (about 150 million, according to the  available estimates) has posed a significant challenge from political, economic, social, health and safety viewpoints. It is well known that the relationships between migration, work and health is complex. In fact, the trend by which migrant workers are involved in the so-called “3D jobs” (dangerous, dirty and demanding/degrading) is still ongoing and, therefore, they are often exposed to poor working conditions, as well as to irregular work and flexible shifts; this, in turn, may endanger their health and safety and might contribute to the development of chronic disorders. Moreover, migrant workers tend to have reduced access to the health care system in general and to occupational health services in particular, mainly for social, administrative, logistic and cultural reasons. Thus, specific attention in order to tackle and reduce these disparities and programmes aimed at promoting migrant health, can help ensure the success of the global economy and its healthy workforce.

As already pointed out in previous literature, the area of health and safety at work in migrants is still understudied and deserves better focus. Firstly, occupational injuries and work-related disorders among migrants are underestimated because they are underdiagnosed and underreported. Secondly, better surveillance data as well as field studies in risky sectors are needed to improve the description and the understanding of the mechanisms by which migrant workers are in worse health and safety conditions and to provide direction to effective interventions. Finally, there is a need for the implementation of migrant focused risk assessment, risk management, health surveillance and fitness for work in workplaces, in order to both improve the quality of migrant workers’ working life and to promote their health, within the framework of the corporate social responsibility.

This Special Issue aims to provide an updated, multidisciplinary and evidence-based state-of-the-art on the occupational health and safety of migrant workers worldwide, covering the all range of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention, hopefully to set milestones for occupational health in this field. We would like to offer to researchers and experts the opportunity to publish their original work, especially in the fields of occupational health, public health, epidemiology, social sciences, health economics, and international labour law. Particularly welcomed are data from field studies, effectiveness intervention studies and reviews related to this research area.   

Prof. Stefano Porru
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • migrant workers
  • occupational safety and health
  • occupational injuries
  • occupational diseases
  • employment relations
  • working conditions
  • healthcare disparities
  • chronic diseases
  • public health research
  • public health interventions
  • workplace health promotion
  • evaluation of effectiveness

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Migration, Work, and Health: Lessons Learned from a Clinical Case Series in a Northern Italy Public Hospital
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(17), 3007; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16173007 - 21 Aug 2019
Abstract
Background: Migrant workers (MWs) generally perform dangerous jobs and have reduced access to occupational health (OH) care, therefore being prone to developing occupational diseases (OD). The aim of the work is to describe a case series of MWs and report on related outcomes [...] Read more.
Background: Migrant workers (MWs) generally perform dangerous jobs and have reduced access to occupational health (OH) care, therefore being prone to developing occupational diseases (OD). The aim of the work is to describe a case series of MWs and report on related outcomes for OH professionals. Methods: A case series of 724 MWs, sent from January 2001 to June 2013 to a public OH unit for OD or fitness-for-work (FFW) evaluation, was entered in a dedicated database and elaborated for descriptive statistics with Microsoft Excel. Results: MWs were mostly (75%) men, with a mean age of 40. They came mainly from Morocco, Senegal, Albania, Romania, and Pakistan. Main sectors of employment were manufacturing, metal industry, services, construction. OD were found in 210 cases, main diagnoses being: Lumbar disc and upper limb musculoskeletal disorders (51%), contact dermatitis (15%), allergic asthma (8%), noise-induced hearing loss (7%), tumors (3%), psychiatric disorders (2%). Moreover, 136 FFW judgements were formulated, with some limitations/restrictions expressed. Finally, a relevant prevalence of some chronic non-occupational diseases was found. Conclusions: MWs in Italy may suffer from OH inequalities. Qualified public OH professionals and occupational physicians in workplaces should have a proactive role to concretely meet MWs’ health needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration, Work and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Mental Strain of Immigrants in the Working Context
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2875; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162875 - 12 Aug 2019
Abstract
Inability to work due to reported mental strain and psychiatric disorders is rising in Germany these days. Meanwhile the country’s net migration is positive. While there is empirical evidence for a healthy migrant effect regarding the physical health in the beginning (mostly accompanied [...] Read more.
Inability to work due to reported mental strain and psychiatric disorders is rising in Germany these days. Meanwhile the country’s net migration is positive. While there is empirical evidence for a healthy migrant effect regarding the physical health in the beginning (mostly accompanied by a subsequent convergence effect), the mental health of migrants remains partly understudied. In order to evaluate the migrant’s share in the rise of reported mental strain in Germany, 4000 employees were surveyed by means of an online access panel. About 16 percent of them revealed a migration background. Their Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI) score is slightly yet significantly above the German autochthonous’ one both using bi- and multivariate analysis, indicating that there is a specific vulnerability rather than a healthy migrant effect regarding mental strain at work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration, Work and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
“I Will Not Leave My Body Here”: Migrant Farmworkers’ Health and Safety Amidst a Climate of Coercion
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(15), 2643; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16152643 - 24 Jul 2019
Abstract
Every year more temporary migrant workers come to Canada to fill labour shortages in the agricultural sector. While research has examined the ways that these workers are made vulnerable and exploitable due to their temporary statuses, less has focused on the subjective experiences [...] Read more.
Every year more temporary migrant workers come to Canada to fill labour shortages in the agricultural sector. While research has examined the ways that these workers are made vulnerable and exploitable due to their temporary statuses, less has focused on the subjective experiences of migrant agricultural workers in regards their workplace health and safety. We conducted interviews and focus groups with migrant workers in the interior of British Columbia, Canada and used a narrative line of inquiry to highlight two main themes that illustrate the implicit and complex mechanisms that can structure migrant agricultural workers’ workplace climate, and ultimately, endanger their health and safety. The two themes we elaborate are (1) authorities that silence; and (2) “I will not leave my body here.” We discuss the implications of each theme, ultimately arguing that a number of complex political and economic forces create a climate of coercion in which workers feel compelled to choose between their health and safety and tenuous economic security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration, Work and Health)
Open AccessArticle
Longer Residence of Ecuadorian and Colombian Migrant Workers in Spain Associated with New Episodes of Common Mental Disorders
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(11), 2027; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16112027 - 06 Jun 2019
Abstract
The healthy migrant effect and its impact on mental health has been reported in the general population of many countries. Information is limited about its impact on working populations. The aim of this study is to estimate the incidence of common mental disorders [...] Read more.
The healthy migrant effect and its impact on mental health has been reported in the general population of many countries. Information is limited about its impact on working populations. The aim of this study is to estimate the incidence of common mental disorders over a one-year follow-up period among a cohort of Colombian and Ecuadorian employees in Spain, taking into account the duration of residence and comparing with Spanish-born workers. Data was from the Longitudinal Studies on Immigrant Families Project (PELFI), a follow-up survey of immigrants and Spanish-born workers interviewed in 2015 and 2016. Mental health was assessed using the 12-item general health questionnaire (GHQ-12). Crude and adjusted odds ratios (ORas) for common mental disorders by sociodemographic and employment characteristics were created. There were differences for immigrants with time of residence less than or equal to 15 years (time of residence 11–15 years: ORa = 0.06, 95% CI = (0.26–0.01); time of residence 1–10 years: ORa = 0.06, 95% CI = (0.36–0.01)). There was evidence of a healthy immigrant worker effect, as newer arrivals from Ecuador and Columbia to Spain had a lower incidence of common mental disorders than either the Spanish-born or immigrant workers who had lived in Spain for more than 15 years. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration, Work and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
A Predictive Model Assessing Genetic Susceptibility Risk at Workplace
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(11), 2012; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16112012 - 05 Jun 2019
Abstract
(1) Background: The study of susceptibility biomarkers in the immigrant workforce integrated into the social tissue of European host countries is always a challenge, due to high individual heterogeneity and the admixing of different ethnicities in the same workplace. These workers having distinct [...] Read more.
(1) Background: The study of susceptibility biomarkers in the immigrant workforce integrated into the social tissue of European host countries is always a challenge, due to high individual heterogeneity and the admixing of different ethnicities in the same workplace. These workers having distinct cultural backgrounds, beliefs, diets, and habits, as well as a poor knowledge of the foreign language, may feel reluctant to donate their biological specimens for the biomonitoring research studies. (2) Methods: A model predicting ethnicity-specific susceptibility based on principal component analysis has been conceived, using the genotype frequency of the investigated populations available in publicly accessible databases. (3) Results: Correlations among ethnicities and between ethnic and polymorphic genes have been found, and low/high-risk profiles have been identified as valuable susceptibility biomarkers. (4) Conclusions: In the absence of workers’ consent or access to blood genotyping, ethnicity represents a good indicator of the subject’s genotype. This model, associating ethnicity-specific genotype frequency with the susceptibility biomarkers involved in the metabolism of toxicants, may replace genotyping, ensuring the necessary safety and health conditions of workers assigned to hazardous jobs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration, Work and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Differences in Eye Health, Access to Eye Care Specialists and Use of Lenses among Immigrant and Native-Born Workers in Spain
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(7), 1288; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16071288 - 10 Apr 2019
Abstract
Latin American immigrants make up 49% of the total immigrant population in Spain, yet little is known about their eye health. The aim of this study is to determine if there are differences in self-perceived eye health, access to eye care specialists, and [...] Read more.
Latin American immigrants make up 49% of the total immigrant population in Spain, yet little is known about their eye health. The aim of this study is to determine if there are differences in self-perceived eye health, access to eye care specialists, and use of lenses between a sample of Latin American immigrant workers from Colombia and Ecuador, and native-born workers in Spain. We used data from the PELFI cohort (Project for Longitudinal Studies of Immigrant Families). The sample consisted of 179 immigrant workers born in Colombia or Ecuador, and 83 Spanish-born workers. The outcome variables were self-perceived eye health, access to eye specialists, and use of lenses. A descriptive analysis of the sample was carried out, and the prevalence of the three outcome variables in immigrants and natives was calculated and adjusted for explanatory variables. Random effects logistic regression models examined eye health outcomes by workers’ country of birth. Immigrants are less likely to report poor self-perceived eye health than native-born (ORc 0.46; CI 95%, 0.22–0.96). Furthermore, they have less access to specialists (ORc 2.61; CI 95%, 1.32–5.15) and a higher probability of needing lenses but not having them (ORc 14.14; CI 95%, 1.77–112.69). This latter variable remained statistically significant after adjusting for covariates (ORa 34.05; CI 95%, 1.59–729.04). Latin American immigrants may not value the use of lenses, despite eye care specialists indicating that they need them. Eye health education is required to recognize the importance of using lenses according to their visual needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration, Work and Health)
Open AccessArticle
Using Three Cross-Sectional Surveys to Compare Workplace Psychosocial Stressors and Associated Mental Health Status in Six Migrant Groups Working in Australia Compared with Australian-Born Workers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(5), 735; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050735 - 28 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Migrant workers may be more likely to be exposed to workplace psychosocial stressors (WPS) which have an affect on physical and mental health. Given the relative lack of research on this topic, the study objectives were to estimate and compare the prevalence of [...] Read more.
Migrant workers may be more likely to be exposed to workplace psychosocial stressors (WPS) which have an affect on physical and mental health. Given the relative lack of research on this topic, the study objectives were to estimate and compare the prevalence of WPS in migrant and Australian workers and investigate associated mental health problems. Three cross-sectional surveys, two with migrant workers and one with Australian workers, were pooled to provide estimates of prevalence. Regressions were conducted to investigate associations between workers and WPS. All WPS, except unfair pay, were associated with higher probability of mental health problems. The association between WPS and mental health did differ between some migrant groups. Compared with Australian-born workers, all other migrant groups tended to have a lower risk of mental health outcomes. Interactions between WPS and migrants showed variable levels in the risk of having a mental health problem, some attenuated and some increased. The study showed that country of birth does play a part in how treatment in the workplace is perceived and responded to. Any interventions to improve workplace conditions for migrant workers need to be aware of the different experiences related to migrant ethnicity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration, Work and Health)
Open AccessArticle
Migrant Workers from the Eastern-Mediterranean Region and Occupational Injuries: A Retrospective Database-Based Analysis from North-Eastern Italy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(4), 673; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16040673 - 25 Feb 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and, according to the Islamic tradition, it coincides with the month when the Noble Koran/Qur’an began to be revealed. In recent years, concerns about the potentially negative health effects of [...] Read more.
The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and, according to the Islamic tradition, it coincides with the month when the Noble Koran/Qur’an began to be revealed. In recent years, concerns about the potentially negative health effects of Ramadan fasting and the risks of work-related injuries have increased in Western European (EURO) countries. In the present study, we performed a retrospective database-based analysis assessing the impact of Ramadan fasting on occupational injuries (OIs) in North-Eastern Italy among migrant workers from the Eastern-Mediterranean Region (EMRO). Our results suggest that EMRO workers exhibit a significantly increased risk for OIs during Ramadan in periods characterized by heat-waves, while their frequency was somehow reduced for days associated with Ramadan characterized by increased but not extreme temperatures. However, these results may be attributable to an explanatory causation in the specific differences between EMRO and EURO workers in the job tasks performed at the workplace. Not coincidentally, no significant differences were found regarding industrial settings, mechanisms of OIs and final prognosis. Despite the obvious practical implications for health decision- and policy-makers, due to the limitations of the present investigation, further studies are warranted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration, Work and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Migrant Farmworkers’ Exposure to Pesticides in Sonora, Mexico
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(12), 2651; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15122651 - 26 Nov 2018
Abstract
Expanding agribusiness in Sonora, a state in Northern Mexico, has increased the demand for temporary migrant agricultural workers. Sonora is one of the top states in Mexico for pesticide utilization. We conducted an exploratory study to evaluate exposure to organophosphate (OP) and pyrethroid [...] Read more.
Expanding agribusiness in Sonora, a state in Northern Mexico, has increased the demand for temporary migrant agricultural workers. Sonora is one of the top states in Mexico for pesticide utilization. We conducted an exploratory study to evaluate exposure to organophosphate (OP) and pyrethroid pesticides among migrant farmworkers. A sample of 20 migrant farmworkers was recruited from a large commercial grape farm during the harvest season. We administered a questionnaire on work activities, exposure characteristics, and socio-demographics. We collected urine samples to quantify pesticide metabolite concentrations. Most participants were originally from the state of Chiapas, Mexico, none had completed high school, and about half spoke an indigenous language as well as Spanish. The majority of participants had detectable concentrations of pyrethroid and organophosphate biomarkers. Geometric mean creatinine-adjusted concentrations for 3-phenoxybenzoic acid (1.83 µg/g), trans-3-(2,2-dichlorovinyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropane carboxylic acid (0.88 µg/g), 4-fluoro-3-phenoxybenzoic acid (0.94 µg/g), 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (3.56 µg/g), and para-nitrophenol (0.63 µg/g) were significantly higher than in the general United States’ population and Mexican Americans. Our results also suggest that migrant farmworkers in this region are exposed to pesticides at higher levels than other farmworkers’ studies. Farmworkers’ age, language, training on personal protective equipment, time at the farm, and season, were significant exposure determinants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration, Work and Health)
Open AccessArticle
Influence of Employment Conditions and Length of Residence on Adherence to Dietary Recommendations in Immigrant Workers in Spain
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(11), 2488; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15112488 - 08 Nov 2018
Abstract
The objective of this article is to analyze the influence of employment conditions on adherence to dietary recommendations among those born in Spain and immigrants by their time of residence. Data were used from the Platform of Longitudinal Studies of Immigrant Families (PELFI) [...] Read more.
The objective of this article is to analyze the influence of employment conditions on adherence to dietary recommendations among those born in Spain and immigrants by their time of residence. Data were used from the Platform of Longitudinal Studies of Immigrant Families (PELFI) cohort (n = 215) to compare Spaniards and immigrants with <14 and >14 years of residence. The questionnaire on frequency of food consumption (15 items) was used to measure adherence to dietary recommendations. Logistic regression models were used, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and employment conditions. Adherence to dietary recommendations was greater among Spaniards, followed by immigrants with >14 years of residence and <14 years of residence. The greatest adherence among Spaniards was for eggs (immigrants ≥ 14 years: 1/ORa = 2.89, <14 years: 1/ORa = 3.92), fish (immigrants ≥ 14 immigrants: 1/ORa = 2.33, <14 years: 1/ORa = 4.72), vegetables (immigrants ≥ 14 years: 1/ORa = 3.26, <14 years: 1/ORa = 4.87), dairy products (immigrants ≥ 14 years: 1/ORa = 14.34, <14 years: 1/ORa = 26.78), and sugary drinks (immigrants ≥14 years: 1/ORa = 2.12, <14 years: 1/ORa = 3.48), and the lowest adherence was for the consumption of sausages and cold cuts (immigrants ≥ 14 years: Ora = 7.62, <14 years: ORa = 24.65). Adjusting for sociodemographic and employment conditions variables did not result in variation in the observed differences between Spaniards, immigrants with <14 years of residence, and immigrants with >14 years of residence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration, Work and Health)
Open AccessArticle
Occupational Health and Safety Vulnerability of Recent Immigrants and Refugees
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(9), 2004; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15092004 - 14 Sep 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Recent immigrants and refugees have higher rates of work-related injuries and illnesses compared to Canadian-born workers. As a result, they are often labelled as vulnerable workers. This study explored the factors that contribute to occupational health and safety (OHS) vulnerability of recent immigrants [...] Read more.
Recent immigrants and refugees have higher rates of work-related injuries and illnesses compared to Canadian-born workers. As a result, they are often labelled as vulnerable workers. This study explored the factors that contribute to occupational health and safety (OHS) vulnerability of recent immigrants and refugees with a focus on modifiable factors such as exposure to hazards and access to workplace protections, awareness of OHS and worker rights, and empowerment to act on those rights. Eighteen focus groups were conducted with 110 recent immigrants and refugees about their experiences looking for work and in their first jobs in Canada. A thematic content analysis was used to organize the data and to identify and report themes. The jobs described by participants typically involved poor working conditions and exposure to hazards without adequate workplace protections. Most participants had limited knowledge of OHS and employment rights and tended to not voice safety concerns to employers. Understanding OHS vulnerability from the lens of workplace context can help identify modifiable conditions that affect the risk of injury and illness among recent immigrants and refugees. Safe work integration depends on providing these workers with information about their rights, adequate job training, and opportunities for participating in injury prevention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration, Work and Health)
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