Social Work

Social Work
8 mn read

Literature Review Part II

On the thanksgiving day in nineteen sixty, the issue of seasonal farmworkers was brought to the attention of the nation. Famous journalist of the United States R.Murrow’s documentary has depicted an accurate picture of the plight of the worker working on the farms. The miserable condition of these people associated with the migrant workers in agriculture was unfolded during the dinner of thanksgiving where in families came across the country. A short look at the history reveals that around forty years later, MSFWs member of the American community remains impoverished and one of the underserved people in the country. The rates of mortality and morbidity in these people were more significant than in the whole of the US community. They were deprived of industrial facilities, prosperity, standard living style, and language and cultural endorsement.

It is difficult to estimate the numbers of these labour workforce because of their economic and social marginalization. However, current calculations unfolded that around 2.5 million labourers are working in the agriculture industry. According to the survey of the US Department of Labor’s national workers, approximately 1.4 million of these labourers belongs to the class of MSFWs. Studies also confirm that three to five million MSFWs and people who are dependent on them (children, wives and related family members) are residing in the United States. A seasonal Farmworker is been defined as “a person whose basic service is in the agriculture sector on a seasonal basis and who is in the job for the last twenty-four months.” Similarly, a migrant agricultural employer comes under the same definition, but it establishes temporary employment for a common purpose like that of other farmworkers (Hansen,2003). The majority of the MSFWs are regular migrants who move from their homes to their particular place for agricultural services. While other remaining workers follow crop for their profession. They move from their place to another, like Midwestern states and Texas, and in predetermine migratory streams along with the Atlantic seaboard.

Regarding the information of subgroups of these migrants, farm workers’ evidence shows that there is quite a significant difference between hired farm labourers and family farmers. Appointed member of the crop is primarily members consisting of eighty percent of males with a median age of twenty-nine. Half of these members are married, and most of the couples migrated and worked together. Forty-five percent have their children, with eighty-one percent are those families with children who are born in foreign states. Among these, ninety-five percent of the workers are from Mexico, two percent from Central America and one percent from the Asian region. Eighty-four percent of the worker have the Spanish language, followed by twelve percent of English speakers. The remaining workers speak Creole, Tagalog, and Mixtec. The ordinary attainment of the educational level of these people is 6th grade.

In the native language, only twenty percent are illiterate, while thirty-eight percent are functionally literate. Twenty-seven percent of these people are marginally literate. US Department of agriculture’s Institute, US agriculture Industry has disclosed that net income on farms was 45.5 billion dollars annually during the year of nineteen ninety. The agricultural and industrial workers produced Eighty-five percent of the fruit and vegetables. Less than one-half of all individual farm workers earn seventy-five hundred dollars per year. The family receiving ratio of these farm workers is also the same in numbers. The Department of labour restricted those employers that were providing labour camps to these MSFWs to enforce the standard of housing. The majority of the labour was unable to pay for standard camps construction and maintenance. The private house was expensive and not suitable for these labourers of the agriculture sector. With the rare facilities in the camps, pesticide-polluted clothing is cleaned in the same sink where food is prepared. Children also bathed in a similar tub. The housing camps’ location was too near to the fields that are pesticide-treated, which resulted in direct pesticide spray. Other than well-managed camps, a large number of tents were overcrowded with poor ventilation and inadequate plumbing system, in this environment and facilities provided to the labour class, diseases like tuberculosis and infections spread easily. Some fortunate MSFWs have no access to housing; they sleep in tents, vans, cars, ditches and even in open fields. For the public of government, it is not to find migrant camps, especially when they are privately owned. The Labor class also faced difficulties in their professional services.

Farm labour is seasonal and intensive work. They work along with migrant workers in the rain, heat, intense bright sun and all kinds of weather conditions. Overburden work with the exploitation of force used in heavy machinery causes chronic musculoskeletal problems and symptoms. In the case of tobacco farmers, direct contact with the plants causes green tobacco sickness and allergic rashes (Meister, 1991). In the US, the most hazardous occupation is agriculture. One-lac thirty thousand injuries and seven hundred eighty death were reported in the year of two thousand. The actual rate of occupational injuries in the agriculture sector is much higher than that of said ratios. Due to the limited health facilities underreporting is essential. In compliance with the regulations of OSHA, poor facilities are there, and seventy percent of sanitation violation was reported during field inspection. Ninety-five percent of the farms are exempted from OSHA rules and regulations. Labours drink water which is contaminated with pesticides and human organic waste.

Regardless of the issues and problems of health faced by the general population, these labourers have unique health problems which are not confronted by the public. Due to poverty, migrancy, substandard living language and cultural barriers, they have increased the number of health hazards. The average life expectancy is forty-nine percent compared with the national life expectancy, which is seventy-five percent. Various are categories of diseases faced by these MFSWs are discussed below.

Migrants workers are at increased risk of contracting fungal, bacterial, viral and parasitic infections. These people have six times more tuberculosis than the general population. There is forty-four percent of migrants facing positive purifies the protein of derivative tuberculin skin test. Parasitic infections are also high than the prevalence in general people. The untreated parasitic condition could lead to malnutrition (Goldsmith, 1989). A high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases is also found in migrant camps. Girls feeling isolated in the fields have fewer recreational facilities. The HIV seroprevalence rate is three to thirteen percent compared to two percent among the general public. Regular visits from boyfriends and those husbands visiting prostitutes provide a high risk of HIV among migrant women. Urinary tract infections are also high in the camps of migrants due to the absence of toilets and strict working conditions in the fields. Chronic urinary retention enhances bacterial growth and weakens the bladder wall, which in turn promotes chronic infections.

Workers that are related to the work of agriculture have a higher rate of skin disorders, which are not available in other industries. In this regard, dermatitis is considered the most common disease among MSFWs. Exposure to pesticides, fertilizers, allergenic crops and other chemicals lead to skin problem. Lack of protective clothing, sun heat, chapped, and the absence of hand washing facilities all created health problems. Occupational dermatitis that occurs on the hands of workers may also decrease work capability. Organic and inorganic dust also contribute to building diseases for the migrants (Arcury, 2007). These include fuels, solvents, and welding fumes. The result of these elements develops a risk of allergies, asthma, hypersensitivity and pulmonary oedema (Magaña, 2008). The worker of the agriculture sector has also problems with reproductive health. They have prolonged standing, bending, and dehydration; chemical exposure leads to an increased risk for abortion. Growth retardation, premature birth, and abnormal postnatal development are all issues related to the health of migrant agriculture workers. The infant mortality rate is estimated to be twice of the average of the nations. One miscarriage or the stillbirth women are there in the migrants as research conducted by the California state.

Restricting children from work, the US government has set the age limit as sixteen for children working in industries and twelve for those who are working in the agriculture sector. However, children are most vulnerable to posing that is pesticides and possess respiratory and communicable diseases. In fact, children are more affected by pesticides than that adults. During the time of developing stage of the child, changes also occur in the enzymes that can enhance the toxicity of the chemicals operating in the environment. A number of the children have below-average height because they face more respiratory parasitic infections in the skin, deficiencies in vitamins and problems related to dental health. Regular moves from place to place, homelessness, frequent moves, poverty and interruptions in friendships and schooling poorly affected to the children’s life both psychologically and physically.

Migrant labour faces a variety of stress levels, including poverty, uncertainty in their job, isolation in society and geography. The poor condition of their house, extreme pressure of time, separation from their family, generational conflicts and issues, lack of recreation, health, and concerns related to the safety and security of their life (Farmer,1992). They also have the problems like stress, violence at the domestic level, and psychiatric illness. Mistreatment of their children also has a profound impact on their personality and effect the psychology of their children (Mirabelli, 2010). Mental disorders are more frequently appear in the families of these migrants due to the non-availability of strong social support, family ties, and language group identity. Over the passage of time, those healthy migrants coming from other states became weak and had psychological illnesses.

Health barriers are frequent for the people working the agriculture industry. Those people working as labor lack access to the medical care, insurance, sick leave, and all those medical facilities that are usually given to people across the United States. Illiteracy further aggravated the situation wherein understanding of communication issues occurred among migrants and the medical staff. Treatment for these migrants also sought for the acute problem than the chronic condition, or the preventive services are mostly due, in part, to this illiteracy. That is why migrant workers have to increase hospitalization ratios and mortality rates more than that conventional people of American society. The prevalence of severe diseases like anaemia, obesity, and hypertension is high. Those chronic diseases that require serious monitoring, such as HIV, diabetes, tuberculosis and particular problems, to the MSFWs often lack regular contact or a long relationship with the care provider.

The system for migrant health consisted of around four hundred sites hardly approached by ten to fifteen patients. This shows the attention and care provided by the federal states to these poor people of the American community. Many migrants were qualifying for the assistant program, but few of them got the actual benefits (Anthony 2008). The migrant worker is mostly disqualified as they do not meet the forty-five days criteria for residency requirements. Fear of the immigration penalties and the lack of eligibility knowledge also hinder their enrolment. Most of the employees do not report wages as MSFWs they mostly fail to prove social security claims, workers’ compensations, and occupational rehabilitation and disability benefits from their organization. The migrant worker is also facing a variety of carcinogens including pesticides, fumes, ultraviolet radiation, sun exposure, and biological agents such as animal and human viruses. The labourers at the farm have an increased rate of mortality, like stomach cancer, including lip and skin. Recent research concluded that members of the united farm workers of America had developed increased diseases of leukaemia and cervix cancer than the California Hispanic population. The exposure of children to pesticides seems to reveal a high risk of the development of the disease than adults. Farmworkers have decreased the mortality rates from cancer of the bladder and lungs, which might be due to the lesser prevalence of smoking. Very little research has focused on the hired farm workers, so that data must cautiously be interpreted. The challenges for the methodological studies include the difficulty of follow-up due to the migrancy, estimated exposure complexities, and correction in occupational codes on the certificates of death.


To be brief, it is worth mentioning that migrants contribute an important role in the progress of the economy of the United States of America. However, they establish a deprecate and unfair population with numerous health and social care needs. The problems like the hindrance in industrial facilities, poverty, language and cultural barriers contribute to MSFWs and create obstacles and barriers to health care. The provocation for the policymakers, and socially conscious Americans, is to provide a healthy public health infrastructure. They also have to collect, systematize and organize the data related to this unfortunate class of society. Reformations in the educational sector can also pave the way for the progress of MSFWs. Increasing awareness regarding the plight of farmworkers would also increase the development of the entire community. Last but not least, those people who harvest our fields must deserve better than they are getting now.

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