Sarah Lowry

Project title: Possibilities and Challenges in Injury Surveillance of Day Laborers

Degree: MPH | Program: Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) | Project type: Thesis/Dissertation
Completed in: 2008


Background: Estimated day labor injuries are high, but better surveillance methods are needed for this highly transient, largely unregulated group.

Methods: Two potential injury surveillance methods were explored: active surveillance at hiring centers, and chart abstraction of cases from a hospital-based trauma registry to indentify contingent workers and day laborers. Work-related injuries from 2001 to 2006 were divided by ethnicity and presence of social security number (SSN). Medical charts were abstracted fro 40 of each of the four resulting groups.

Results: Active surveillance at the work centers yeilded 12 injury reports over three months, but was highly non-systematic. In the second method, Hispanic cases lacking SSN had more missing employment information than other groups and included only "probably" day laborer identified. Non-Hispanics with SSN were less frequently identified as contingent workers.

Conclusions: Both methods revealed severe limitations. Approaches to improve existing resources for use in surveillance systems are identified.