Pilot: Occupational Safety and Health of Forest Workers

Principal Investigator: Butch de Castro, PhD, MSN/MPH
Adjunct Professor, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences
University of Washington

NIOSH 2010-2011

The forest service workforce is a predominately Spanish-speaking and immigrant population that faces language barriers, isolated working environments, and dangerous working conditions. To address the occupational health and safety concerns of this population, this project explored the injuries and illnesses and related medical treatment. The data collected in this project was used to pilot a job health and safety promotora program for forest service workers. This promotora program also received funding from our partners at Alliance of Forest Workers and Harvesters-Labor Occupational Health Program at the University of California, Berkeley- Lomakatsi Restoration Project. With a small grant from PNASH, this partnership piloted a job health and safety promotora program for these workers. Alliance staff recruited and trained promotoras to staff the program as well as to collaborate in developing and conducting a sample survey among forest services workers.

Contacting workers through snowball sampling, the promotoras administered the questionnaire to 150 workers, representing a response rate of 75%. Principal findings show that injury rates among forest workers are much higher than rates reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and that forest workers and employers fail to report on-the-job injuries at rates consistent with other studies. The forest workers surveyed reported specific concerns about safety training and working conditions.  The needs raised by workers will help this partnership in developing a promotora program.

Partnerships and Advisories
The Alliance of Forest Workers

Harvesters-Labor Occupational Health Program at the University of California, Berkeley

Lomakatsi Restoration Project

Products
"Healthy Forests, Abused Workers, Safety, Health and Working Conditions among Forest Ecosystem Restoration Workers in Southern Oregon" July 2012

Northwest Forest Worker Center, "Health and Safety Resources" (English and Spanish)

Projects
Safety and Health of Latino Immigrant Forestry Service Workers in the Pacific Northwest

Year: 
2010 to 2011