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Report: Immigrant N.H.workers uninformed about workers’ comp

Lack of funds cause some to go without treatment for occupational injuries

agricultureA new report finds that many immigrant workers in New Hampshire have no knowledge of workers’ compensation, leading -- in some cases -- to medical bills for work-related injuries going upaid, or to workers not seeking treatment for work-related injuries because they couldn’t afford to pay for it themselves.

The report from NHCOSH and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services found that of the 366 immigrant workers in the state who were surveyed, 62 percent had never heard of workers’ compensation and ten percent had been injured on the job.

Fifteen of 25 workers who were injured reported that at the time of the injury they did not know that all their medical bills were supposed to be paid by workers’ compensation. Another six reported problems getting workers’ compensation to pay their medical bills, and four people said they went without treatment due to their inability to pay.

Additionally, 69 percent of the respondents reported that they always or sometimes maintain tiring or painful positions at work.

Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau suggest that between 2000 and 2010, immigration may have accounted for half of the New Hampshire’s overall migration gain.

"With the increase in immigrants in New Hampshire, it is important to understand how their experience may be different when it comes to public health issues, such as workplace safety and health," said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). "Little data exists about occupational injury and illness by race, ethnicity, or language, so we felt it was important to conduct this survey.”

Montero said information from the report would help inform future health policies and programs.

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