Working in the Shadows: Safety and Health in Forestry Services in Southern Oregon
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Working in the Shadows: Safety and Health in Forestry Services in Southern Oregon

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  • Alternative Title:
    J For
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    We conducted a small participatory survey to document occupational injuries and illnesses, medical treatment, wage issues, and general working conditions among 150 forest workers in southern Oregon who are mostly Spanish-speaking immigrants from Latin America. We used snowball sampling in administering the survey. Survey results showed a high rate of job-related injury among the workers who responded to our survey. Results also suggested that many forestry services contractors licensed in Jackson and Josephine counties may not always follow labor laws. The vast majority of workers surveyed reported being fearful of retaliation for reporting injuries. There were no differences in reported working conditions and wage issues between workers with H-2B visas and other workers in the sample. This finding suggests that current US labor and health and safety laws are not effectively protecting Oregon's forest workers, owing to forest workers' structural vulnerability-their low positioning in social structures supported by immigration and economic status-compounded by fear of retaliation. Immigration policies and enforcement practices that contribute to creating a labor system with these inherent vulnerabilities and power imbalances need to be further examined and changed.
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