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Open Access Research

A qualitative investigation of Hispanic construction worker perspectives on factors impacting worksite safety and risk

Cora Roelofs1*, Linda Sprague-Martinez2, Maria Brunette1 and Lenore Azaroff1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854, USA

2 Community Health Program, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA

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Environmental Health 2011, 10:84  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-10-84

Published: 30 September 2011

Abstract

Background

Hispanic workers have higher rates of injury and death on construction worksites than workers of other ethnicities. Language barriers and cultural differences have been hypothesized as reasons behind the disparate rates.

Methods

We conducted two series of focus groups with union and non-union Hispanic construction workers to ask them about their perceptions of the causes for the unequal rates. Spanish transcripts were translated and coded in QSR NVivo software for common themes.

Results

Workers reported a difficult work environment characterized by supervisor pressure, competition for jobs and intimidation with regard to raising safety concerns. Language barriers or cultural factors were not strongly represented as causative factors behind the rates.

Conclusion

The results of this study have informed the development of an intervention trial that seeks to prevent falls and silica dust exposure by training contractors employing Hispanic construction workers in the elements of safety leadership, including building respect for their Hispanic workers and facilitating their participation in a safety program.