Introduction The global labour market is increasingly employing migrant workers (MWs) mainly in high-risk sectors, where they are frequently exposed to work-related psychosocial risk factors (WPR) that might contribute to the development of chronic disorders.
Objectives Aim of the contribution is to provide evidence on the complex link between WPR and MWs’ health status, through a comparison with Italian workers (IWs), based on objective clinical data.
Methods Observational cross-sectional study, performed from 2011 to 2013 in 2 enterprises (i.e. catering company and cast-iron foundry). Occupational health physicians (OHP) filled in a comprehensive multi-item questionnaire, also focusing on WPR outcomes, and collected clinical documentation for 99 MWs and 105 IWs, paired by gender and age (±10 years). Chi-square, Fisher’s exact and Student’s t tests (p ≤ 0.05) were performed with SAS.
Results MWs’ main features: 55% men; mean age 34.5 years; mainly from East Europe (34%), Asia (26%), North Africa (16%); 62% labour migrants; on average 11.4 years of regular status in Italy, 15% Italian citizens. MWs showed, as compared to IWs: lesser job-specific seniority (p = 0.002), leadership roles (p = 0.0199), full-time work (p = 0.0125), awareness of the possible association between bad working conditions and poor health (p = 0.0134); self-perceived worse occupational health and safety (OHS) training (p = 0.0024); greater job satisfaction (p = 0.0415); more difficulties in accessing to welfare state services (p = 0.0013) and fewer ongoing medical treatments (p = 0.0486); higher prevalence of documented low back (41% vs 28%, p = 0.0404) and upper limb (32% vs 16%, p = 0.0086) musculoskeletal disorders; no significant differences in self-perceived discrimination at work, absenteeism, documented psychiatric disorders (e.g. depression,anxiety,sleep disturbances).
Conclusions The study is suggestive of a link between WPR and OHS inequalities among MWs, as well as of an association between the condition of migrant and some musculoskeletal disorders. Targeted workplace efforts, with full involvement of OHP, are needed to enable MWs’ effective integration, especially from the health status viewpoint.
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