Minority workers and communities

Occup Med. 1999 Jul-Sep;14(3):495-517.


Environmental and occupational hazards do not affect all communities equally. Members of ethnic and racial minorities, whether as working people or as community residents, sustain disproportionate risks from chemical, physical, and biological hazards. This paper reviews the nature of these disproportionate risks, focusing primarily on the workplace, but considering general environmental exposures as well. It discusses three principal mechanisms of increased risk: excessive hazardous exposures in both the workplace and the general environment, increased susceptibility, and inferior healthcare. It presents evidence that, as the result of these factors, members of minority groups display elevated rates of work-related illness, injury, fatality, and disability. Finally, it offers recommendations with regard to research, primary prevention, minority recruitment into the occupational health professions, and treatment and compensation for injured and ill minority workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control
  • Occupational Health*
  • Occupational Medicine
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Research
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Workforce
  • Workplace*