Tackling health inequities for low-income workers
From the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR):
When we think about low-income workers, we usually think about fast-food cashiers or migrant farmworkers, not construction workers. And it's true that skilled trades employees steadily employed in commercial construction work can command respectable, middle-class wages. But it's equally true that millions of workers on the margins of the building industry struggle to put together a living, vexed by irregular demand, low piecework rates, and even wage theft. Adding to their burden, low-income workers and their families suffer greater exposure to illness and injury at home and on the job, resulting in reduced life expectancy.
Public health researchers and practitioners are increasingly adopting a "social ecological framework" perspective to respond. A worker is part of a company, a family, a church and a neighborhood, and what happens in one arena affects all the others. Family doctors and community clinics that treat these workers need to appreciate workplace hazards that might explain their symptoms; occupational safety and health personnel need to understand the challenges their employees might encounter in the home or community.
Promoting integrated approaches to reducing health inequities among low-income workers: Applying a Social Ecological Framework examines a number of promising initiatives in this field. Presented by some of the nation's leading scholars in public and occupational health - including CPWR's own Laura Welch and Massachusetts Occupational Health Surveillance Program Director Letitia Davis, who serves on CPWR's advisory board - the article appears in the May 2014 edition of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. A summary of the key findings can be found on the CPWR website.