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University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 9, 2008

Attention needed to prevent Hispanic worker deaths

Hispanic workers may be at higher risk for work-related death than other U.S. workers, a University of Iowa trauma investigator warns.

"Iowa has many Hispanic workers, and they are doing jobs in industries like those highlighted in a recent national report," said Murray Madsen, chief investigator Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (IA FACE) at the University of Iowa.

The report, compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published in the Dec. 3, 2008 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), indicated Hispanics are among the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. workforce. Between 1992 and 2006, a total of 11,303 Hispanic workers died from work-related injuries, and the death rate for Hispanic workers during that time was consistently higher than the rate for all U.S. workers. The proportion of deaths among foreign-born Hispanic workers increased over time, according to report. The full report is available at

The IA FACE program, which keeps a record of work-related fatalities in the state, shows an increase in deaths among Hispanic workers in recent years. There were 14 Hispanic workers who died at work in Iowa from 2003 through 2006, Madsen said. In 2007, there were four and to date in 2008 there have been at least six, he said.

"That's more than any year since 2004," Madsen said.

In the JAMA report, highway incidents were the most common fatal event from 1997-2006, with the exception of 2000 and 2006 when falls to a lower level were most common among Hispanic workers. During 2003-2006, the most common industry for these events was construction followed by waste services and agriculture as a close third.

The study states that much of the increased risk for Hispanic workers is likely due to high-risk jobs. Previous investigations have suggested several characteristics that contribute to higher numbers of deaths among Hispanic workers, including lack of experience, inadequate knowledge and control of recognized safety hazards, and inadequate training and supervision of Hispanic workers, often exacerbated by different languages and literacy levels of workers.

"Preventing work-related deaths among Hispanic workers deserves attention by employers," Madsen said. "Employers may need more and better culturally appropriate and effective resources to do so."

Workers, their communities and organizations are also identified in the CDC study as important contributors to help identify and prevent occupational safety and health issues. Two Web resources include: and

Iowa's worker deaths are recorded on the IA FACE Web site at

IA FACE is one of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's nine state-based programs designed to conduct surveillance, targeted investigations and prevention activities on all occupational fatalities.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications and External Relations, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242

MEDIA CONTACTS: Murray Madsen, Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation,, 319-335-4481; Debra Venzke, UI College of Public Health Office of Communications and External Relations, 319-335-9647,