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Occupational health and safety problems of migrant workers in Australia

Hemerik, Hendrik (1992) Occupational health and safety problems of migrant workers in Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This study has examined various problems experienced by migrants from a non-English speaking background, in particular with relation to accidents in the workplace. Special attention has been paid to back injuries and the workers’ compensation migrant workers receive compared to that awarded to non migrant workers. Discrimination in the workplace, and various other related problems, not necessarily peculiar to migrant workers, such as the relationship between the incidence of accidents and the length of employment have also been examined.

In addition to data obtained from the Water Authority of Western Australia, the Royal Perth Hospital and the Australian Electrical, Electronics, Foundry and Engineering Union, specially designed questionnaires were used to solicit information from workers, employers and trade unions. A total of 322 workers participated in the survey of which 216 were born overseas representing twenty five countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The data obtained from all questionnaires were analysed using the 'Complete Statistical System' (CSS), a Statistical software package for the Social Sciences, produced by the StatSoft Company in the United States of America.

Information obtained during interviews with employers, employing approximately 12,500 migrant and non-migrant workers, and with trade union officials, representing non-migrant and migrant workers, was also used to determine the validity of the hypotheses.

The main conclusions of this study are that migrant workers have more industrial accidents than nonmigrant workers; are over-represented in the high risk low paid jobs; are discriminated against m the workplace; they do not sustain more back injuries than the average for the workforce as a whole; in workers' compensation settlements they receive smaller pay-outs than non-migrant workers; lack of proficiency in English does not necessarily increase the risks of industrial accidents and the majority of industrial accidents do occur in the first two years of employment.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Cena, Kris
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