This brief summarizes research conducted by UCLA-LOSH and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) on the experiences of day laborers who are injured while working in residential settings in California. Interviews with 64 day laborers show that 1) workers face a wide range of hazards at residential worksites, 2) the injuries they experience can be serious in nature, and 3) these injuries often result in substantial costs to workers and their families. Many of these workers may be eligible for workers’ compensation when injuries occur, but few injured workers benefit from these resources.
The report includes a discussion of the common barriers day laborers face in accessing workers’ compensation resources, and it consider the impact of proposed legislation in California to streamline workers’ compensation eligibility requirements for this workforce.
This LOSH report is based on data from the 2008 Unregulated Work Survey of workers in low-wage industries in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. A subset of about 600 respondents in that survey indicated they had been injured on the job in the prior three years. This project analyzed information provided by these respondents for insights regarding injured workers’ interactions with employers, access to medical care, and likelihood of filing workers’ comp claims.
Analysis revealed significantly higher rates of injury among men, undocumented residents, those whose primary language was Spanish, and those working in the construction industry. Over half of respondents who experienced a work-related injury indicated their employer reacted negatively to the injury – common employer reactions included pressuring workers to work despite injury, firing them shortly after injury, and/or threatening them with deportation or firing. Only 11% of respondents said their employers provided them with a workers’ compensation claim form and/or told them to file. Undocumented residents were significantly more likely to experience negative reactions from employers following injury, less likely to seek medical attention, and less likely to file for workers’ compensation.
Funding for this project was provided by the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation.