Statistics on occupational accidents are based on data from registered employees. With the increasing number of immigrants employed illegally and/or without regular working visas in many developed countries, it is of interest to estimate the injury rate among such unregistered workers.
The current study was conducted in an area of North-Eastern Italy. The sources of information employed in the present study were the Accidents and Emergencies records of a hospital; the population data on foreign-born residents in the hospital catchment area (Health Care District 4, Primary Care Trust 20, Province of Verona, Veneto Region, North-Eastern Italy); and the estimated proportion of illegally employed workers in representative samples from the Province of Verona and the Veneto Region. Of the 419 A&E records collected between January and December 2004 among non European Union (non-EU) immigrants, 146 aroused suspicion by reporting the home, rather than the workplace, as the site of the accident. These cases were the numerator of the rate. The number of illegally employed non-EU workers, denominator of the rate, was estimated according to different assumptions and ranged from between 537 to 1,338 individuals. The corresponding rates varied from 109.1 to 271.8 per 1,000 non-EU illegal employees, against 65 per 1,000 reported in Italy in 2004.
The results of this study suggest that there is an unrecorded burden of illegally employed immigrants suffering from work related injuries. Additional efforts for prevention of injuries in the workplace are required to decrease this number. It can be concluded that the Italian National Institute for the Insurance of Work Related Injuries (INAIL) probably underestimates the incidence of these accidents in Italy.