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June 7, 1995

Good Workers May Get Bad Breaks on Health

JAMA. 1995;273(21):1643-1646. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520450011005

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FOR MANY immigrants and refugees who come to the United States, the hard work they hope will enable them to forge a good life all too often puts them at risk of workplace-related illness and injury.

Those who have scant education and lack work and language skills often have little choice other than jobs that are low paying, hazardous, or both. They sew for long hours in garment sweatshops, work with hazardous materials such as asbestos or toxic chemicals without adequate protection, or labor in settings where they are targets of violent crime.

Although health and safety regulations exist that offer protection, many immigrant and refugee workers are unaware of their existence or are too fearful of reprisals from employers or deportation to alert the authorities when their employers ignore them. And when these workers do become sick or injured, their problems are often compounded by a lack of access

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