Occupational Injury and Experiences of Suffering Among Latino and Latina Immigrants in Los Angeles, California and Returnee Migrants in Mexico.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 19:30
Oral Presentation
Angel SERRANO-SANCHEZ, Universidad de Guanajuato, Mexico
The International Labor Organization (ILO) calculates that as a result of occupational accidents 220,000 deaths occur every year. In the United States, immigrant workers in general face higher risk than native workers for occupational injuries and illnesses as a result of scarce political and economic resources, language barriers, cultural differences and poor working conditions. Immigrants commonly have the most dangerous occupations and perform the riskiest tasks, and due to language difficulties and discrimination, they may receive inadequate safety training. Occupational injuries are disproportionately present among the Latino immigrant population: In 2002, the average occupational injury rate among immigrant Latino workers in non-agricultural occupations was 12.2 per 100 full-time workers, compared to 7.1 injuries per 100 full-time workers in the U.S. population. In this work, I explore how Latino immigrant everyday lives and employment trajectories are affected by injury and disability in a context characterized by high vulnerability. The theoretical framework of social suffering and concepts such as structural violence and structural vulnerability are used to analyze the links among migration, health and employment. Based on the study of personal narratives, I propose a qualitative analysis to understand the effects of occupational injuries on participants’ lives. Latino and Latina immigrants living in California and returnee migrants in Mexico who have experienced severe work related injuries in the United States participate in this study. Participants’ narratives show a direct relationship among economic crisis, precarious working conditions and occupational accidents. Their personal narratives also give testimony that suffering is a salient part of their everyday lives. The study of the relation among employment, health and migration is crucial to understand how health inequalities are reinforced and become embodied in the form of suffering and disease at a time that hate sentiments against migrant populations seem to be increasing worldwide.