University of Nebraska Medical Center

Working to Improve the Health and Safety of Immigrant Feedlot Workers

Antonia Correa, Dr. Kathleen Grant, Ellen Duysen, Natalia Trinidad, Dr. Gustavo Carlo, Dr. Athena Ramos, Rodrigo Gamboa, Marcela Carvajal-Suarez, Axel Fuentes)

Spotlight on Research at COPH – Increasing numbers of Latino immigrants are working in agricultural production across the U.S., and these workers represent a significant portion of the agricultural labor force. Research has documented that agriculture and animal production can be risky business. In fact, this industry has the highest fatality rate of any industry with approximately 100 agricultural workers injured every day. Even with these sobering statistics, research on the health and safety practices of immigrant cattle feedlot workers is sorely lacking. Dr. Athena Ramos, has received funding through the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) to conduct a study to better understand Latino immigrant cattle feedlot workers’ health status, unique risk and protective factors, and specific occupational educational and training needs.

Health and well-being are the products of complex interactions between individuals, their social interactions, and intrapersonal processes. Using a culturally sensitive ecological model of immigrant worker health and safety, Dr. Ramos will explore how acculturative stress, cultural values, coping strategies, and ethnic identity affect health and safety outcomes. She will also examine the appropriate use of health and safety protections and develop new tools to improve safety and well-being for this population of workers. The specific objectives of this project are to:

1.       Identify and assess health status and occupationally related health and safety risks

2.       Test a conceptual model of ecological stress and its impact on immigrant cattle feedlot workers

3.       Develop effective educational and training materials to address health and safety needs of immigrant workers.

Dr. Ramos’ research team is currently conducting personal interviews with feedlot workers in Nebraska and Kansas. The team will continue working in both states over the next four years.

This research study is innovative, and it fills a void in the understanding of occupational health and safety among Latino immigrant cattle feedlot workers. No peer-reviewed research about this worker population exists. This work will foster a greater understanding of the unique assets and challenges to health and safety faced by immigrant feedlot workers in the Midwest as well as provide useful tools to improve the health and safety among this population.

 This article was written by Ellen Duysen, MPH, Community Outreach Specialist, Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH), Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center


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