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Wake Forest University School of Medicine

JUSTA: Justice & Health for Poultry Workers



Sara A. Quandt, Ph.D.
squandt@wfubmc.edu

Project Description:

The overall goal of this project is to address the health disparities faced by immigrant Latino workers in the poultry production and processing industry in rural, western North Carolina, through a partnership of community advocates from Centro Latino, environmental health scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and health care providers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. This partnership is JUSTA, Justicia y Salud para los Trabajadores Avícolas (Justice and Health for Poultry Workers). Workers in the poultry industry in the United States experience a disproportionate share of occupation-attributed musculoskeletal, skin, and respiratory disorders. Recent trends in this industry have concentrated the injuries in a worker population that is poor, minority, and comprised predominantly of immigrants. These workers lack safety and health education aimed at their specific work and social challenges.


To bring about greater social and environmental justice for these workers, the project has two foci. The first focus is on individual workers and their families, helping them to be more resilient to stressors. This focus recognizes that individuals need to work and that they will continue to work in industries that are detrimental to their health and well-being. The second focus is on the community, strengthening community-based organizations so that they can move toward social and regulatory change and justice. Community advocates, health care providers and environmental health researchers will work together in this project to address five specific aims:

 

  1. To encourage social action by Latino community-based advocacy groups in western North Carolina to effect policies that reduce the burden of occupational and environmental health disparities due to employment in the poultry industry;
  2. To construct a foundation to design educational materials and communication strategies to prevent or reduce exposure to physical and social occupational stressors and minimize their effects among poultry worker families in North Carolina; this will include (a) documenting knowledge, beliefs, and experiences of poultry worker families in North Carolina about stressors caused by different types of poultry work as well as methods of protecting themselves and their families from exposure at work and in the home, (b) documenting exposures and outcomes of stressors among poultry worker families, and (c) documenting other occupational and environmental health concerns that arise from discussions with poultry worker families.
  3. To develop culturally and linguistically appropriate educational materials and implement programs that will promote ways to prevent or reduce exposure to physical and social occupational stressors and their effects among poultry worker families.
  4. To develop educational materials and implement programs that will better prepare health care providers to recognize and treat with cultural competence illnesses caused by stressors related to poultry production and processing among immigrant families, and counsel families on ways to prevent or reduce exposure.
  5. To evaluate the process and outcomes of community participation in this project so that it can be used by other community-based organizations to engage community residents in efforts to reduce environmental and occupational risks in their communities and seek environmental justice.

Collaborators

  • Bless Burke, M.A.
    Executive Director
    Centro Latino of Caldwell County, Inc.
  • Michael Lee Coates, M.D.
    Professor
    Wake Forest University School of Medicine
  • Francisco J. Risso
    Director
    Western North Carolina Workers Center


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