This page serves as a brief overview of the the theory that informs our work.
The Thoroughbred Worker Health and Safety Study is a community and industry engaged study that strives to understand the types of injuries and illnesses that are experienced on horse farms and identifying the organizational antecedents (i.e., work organization factors) that may determine occupational injury, illness, and ill health.
What is work organization?
Work organization is a multilevel framework that refers to how jobs are designed and managed and includes almost every aspect of a worker’s job. There are multiple levels through which the work environment may influence worker health.
The external context includes the economic, environmental and societal conditions that operate outside of the organization, yet influence the organization and the worker. The organizational context includes managerial structures, organizational and supervisory practices. The work context includes the day-to-day features of the work environment to which the worker is exposed, such as job tasks, scheduling practices, and relationships with others at work.
How does work organization relate to worker health?
Previous research has demonstrated that work organization factors at all levels may influence worker health (Vandenberg, et al., 2002), with job-specific factors mediating the effects of organizational factors on health outcomes (Landsbergis et al., 2014; MacDonald et al., 2008).
However, much of this work has focused on white collar workers (Karasek & Theorell, 1990). Research looking specifically at the interface of work organization and occupational safety and health in physically demanding industries such as agriculture is sparse (Grzywacz et al., 2007; Grzywacz et al., 2013; Marín et al., 2009; Swanberg et al., 2012; Swanberg et al., 2013).
We are interested in discovering how broader aspects of the work environment may influence the health of Latino farmworkers. Latinos not only are disproportionately employed in agriculture (NAWS, 2005) compared to workers of other ethnicities, but they are also more vulnerable, experiencing higher fatal injury rates than other workers (CFOI, 2014).
What is community and industry engaged research?
Like Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), community/industry engaged research is guided by input and feedback from stakeholders at all steps of the research process.
Our work is guided by two advisory councils who have provided input and feedback into all stages of the research process. One council is comprised of industry representatives who ensure that our research meets the industry’s concerns and needs. The other is comprised of individuals and organizations that serve the Latino community, ensuring that our research meets the needs and concerns of workers.
A list of our advisory council members is available here.
Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). 2014. Fatal occupational injuries, total hours worked, and rates of fatal occupational injuries by selected worker characteristics, occupations, and industries, civilian workers, 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfoi_rates_2012hb.pdf.
Grzywacz, J., Arcury, T., Marín, A., Carrillo, L., Coates, M., Burke, B., & Quandt, S. (2007). The organization of work: Implications for injury and illness among immigrant Latino poultry-processing workers. Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, 62(1): 19-26.
Grzywacz, J. G., Lipscomb, H. J., Casanova, V., Neis, B., Fraser, C., Monaghan, P., & Vallejos, Q. M. (2013). Organization of work in the agricultural, forestry, and fishing sector in the US southeast: Implications for immigrant workers’ occupational safety and health. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 56(8), 925-939. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22169
Karasek, R., & Theorell, T. (1990). Healthy work: Stress, productivity, and the reconstruction of working life. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Landsbergis, P. A., Grzywacz, J. G., & LaMontagne, A. D. (2014). Work organization, job insecurity, and occupational health disparities. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 57(5): 495-515.
MacDonald, L., Härenstam, A., Warren, N., & Punnett, L. (2008). Incorporating work organisation into occupational health research: An invitation for dialogue. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 65(1): 1-3. doi: 10.1136/oem.2007.033860.
Marín, A. J., Grzywacz, J. G., Arcury, T. A., Carrillo, L., Coates, M. L., & Quandt, S. A. (2009). Evidence of organizational injustice in poultry processing plants: Possible effects on occupational health and safety among Latino workers in North Carolina. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 52(1), 37-48.
NAWS. (2005). Findings from NAWS 2001–2002: A demographic and employment profile of United States farm workers.
Sauter, S., Brightwell, S. W., Colligan, M., Hurrell, J. J., Katz, T., LeGrande, D. E., . . . Tetrick, L. (2002). The changing organization of work and the safety and health of working people: Knowledge gaps and research directions Cincinnati, OH: NIOSH.
Swanberg, J. E., Clouser, J. M., & Westneat, S. (2012). Work organization and occupational Health: Perspectives from Latinos employed on crop and horse breeding farms. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 55(8), 657-745. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22032
Swanberg, J. E., Clouser, J. M., Browning, S. R., Westneat, S., & Webster, M. K. (2013). Occupational Health among Latino Horse and Crop Workers in Kentucky: The Role of Work Organization Factors. Journal of Agromedicine, 18(4), 312-325. doi: 10.1080/1059924X.2013.826604.
Vandenberg, R. J., Park, K.-O., DeJoy, D., M., Wilson, M. G., & Griffin-Blake, C. S. (2002). The Healthy Work Organization Model: Expanding the View of Individual Health and Well Being in the Workplace. In P. Perrewe & D. Ganster (Eds.), Historical and Current Perspectives on Stress and Health (First ed., Vol. 2, pp. 57-115): Elsevier Science, Ltd.