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Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

Working Conditions and Health in Central America

Project Overview

In Central America, there is a lack of systematic, reliable and accurate data on the prevalence, nature, and possible effects of working and labor conditions, including the prevalence of work-related and gender-based violence. Existing data are generally considered unreliable because of poor quality or scant distribution.

David Gimeno, PhD, with the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences (EHGES) at UTHealth School of Public Health is leading the effort to conduct the Second Central American Working Conditions and Health Survey. This survey is a nationally representative household survey, including related focus groups, of each of the six Spanish-speaking country in Central America (i.e., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama). The project is being conducted with partial support from a three-year Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the Chief Evaluation Office and the Office of Economic and Labor Research.

Besides addressing topics of working and employment conditions (e.g., working hours, contracts, hazardous exposures) and health (e.g., general health, mental health, injuries), the Cooperative Agreement will help support the assessment of employment discrimination and work-related violence among persons over the age of 17 years who worked at least one hour for pay in the week before the survey or who were temporarily absent from their work. The study objectives are to conduct, in each of the six Spanish-speaking countries in Central America: 1) A nationally representative household survey of working conditions, including work-related and gender-based violence, and their potential health-related effects; and 2) related focus group sessions, centered on labor rights and work-related violence, in order to gather complementary qualitative contextual data on related priority topics.

For the survey, we will select a random sample of 1500 workers in each country (total, 9000 workers) using a probabilistic, multistage, stratified approach. The most recent census for each country will be used as the starting point for the sampling. For the focus group sessions, we will target both men and women in informal and formal employment, from a mix of rural and urban areas and, to the extent possible, including minorities and persons with disabilities, using a purposive and snowball sampling approach.

Knowledge gained from both the survey and the focus groups will serve to inform both more detailed research analysis and public policy on worker safety and health in Central America.







Contact Information

Erika Figueroa, MPH

Project Coordinator

UTHealth School of Public Health


Phone: 713-500-9676