Occupational Health and Safety in Small Businesses in Urban Areas: the Non-participation of Immigrant Workers

Gravel, S.; Rhéaume, J.; Legendre, G. (2013)

Safety Science

1(11) | p. 19-29

An analysis of worker participation was carried out as part of a larger study on strategies for managing occupational safety and health in small businesses that hire immigrant workers. This analysis was based on the triangulation of three data sources: interviews with those who answered the questions on behalf of the small business owners or managers (n = 28); occupational health professionals who gave advice to the same small businesses (n = 26); and questionnaires completed by the immigrant workers (self-administered, n = 181). The results converged in that immigrant workers, compared to workers of Canadian origin, received less initial training when hired and were less able to identify risks. Immigrant workers informed their employer less often when they were injured and participated less in investigations following an accident. Many did not have protective equipment and, where the employer did provide it, they were less inclined to wear it. Generally, insufficient effort was made by small businesses to protect or inform immigrant workers of their rights and obligations, or to integrate them into the workplace. The study shows that it would be useful if company directors provided support to manage the occupational safety and health of immigrant workers and compliance with regulations, as well as endeavouring to understand the issues underlying equal labour and management representation in occupational safety and health.