Objectives: The importance of workers' language and migration characteristics to safety in the work environment has been debated but remains unclear. This study examined the role of these factors in the occurrence of work-related fatalities in Australia.
Methods: The study was based on an investigation of all work-related fatalities occurring in Australia during 1982-1984. Denominators for each year were obtained according to gender and country-of-birth census data from the 1981 and 1986 national censuses, interpolated and adjusted according to annual labor force survey estimates for the period 1981 to 1986 to indicate the true movement of the employed civilian labor force over the study period.
Results: Of 1211 decedents identified with known country of birth, 333 were born outside of Australia. The overall fatality incidence per 100,000 person-years in the employed civilian labor force was 7.12 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 6.36-7.88], which is similar to that of Australian-born persons, 6.56 (95% CI 6.12-6.99). However, fatality incidences in rural and mining occupations were significantly increased among overseas-born persons when they were compared with Australian-born persons. Mortality ratios standardized separately for occupation and age showed significantly elevated mortality for duration of residence of less than five years, particularly for persons of non-English speaking background. These values converged to the Australian rate with increasing duration of residence.
Conclusion: This study suggests that factors related to country of birth (eg, language) and duration of residence of overseas-born workers are important determinants of safety at work in Australia.