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Missed Work Due to Occupational Illness among Hispanic Horse Workers

Occupational illnesses are inadequately reported for agriculture, an industry dominated by a vulnerable Hispanic population and high fatal and nonfatal injury rates. Work-related illnesses can contribute to missed work, caused by a combination of personal and work factors, with costs to the individual, employer, and society.

 

To better understand agricultural occupational illnesses a team at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health interviewed 225 Hispanic horse industry workers selected via community-based convenience sampling. The resulting publication appears in the Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health.

 

Descriptive statistics, bivariate analyses, and log binomial regression modeling were used to: (1) describe the prevalence of missed work due to work-related illnesses among Hispanic horse workers, (2) examine work-related and personal factors associated with missed work, and (3) identify health symptoms and work-related characteristics potentially associated with missed work.

 

Key findings reveal that having at least one child, having poor self-reported general health, experiencing stress during a typical workday, or spending less time with horses are significant predictors of missing work. Interventions can be designed to identify workers most susceptible to missing work and provide resources to reduce absenteeism.

 

The investigators propose that future research should examine work-related illness in agricultural horse production, including personal and work-related factors, in order to diminish occupational health disparities among these workers, who are more likely to be employed in hazardous agricultural work.

 

Dr. Ashley Bush of the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) is lead author. Co-authors are Ms. Susan Westneat of the Central Appalachian Regional Education and Research Center (CARERC), Dr. Steven Browning of the Department of Epidemiology, and Dr. Jennifer Swanberg of the Univ. of Maryland School of Social Work. Victoria Garcia-Davis of the UK College of Public Health provided translation services. KIPRC and CARERC are based in the UK College of Public Health. KIPRC is a bona fide agent of the Kentucky Department for Public Health.