Take migrant workers into consideration in combating occupational diseases

There seems to be a growing awareness of the need to improve workplace health as well as safety (Workplace deaths hit 13-year low; illnesses up; Feb 14).

The top three diseases highlighted in the article – musculoskeletal disorders, noise-induced deafness and skin diseases – made up 90 per cent of occupational disease cases.

Migrant workers are especially prone to these diseases considering the jobs they perform, such as construction work and cleaning, for example.

Such cases are likely to be under-reported, and hence under-represented in official figures, simply because most migrant workers remain in Singapore for only a few years, and would normally return to their countries of origin before any serious occupation-related conditions become acute.

Migrant workers should be taken fully into account in planning measures to combat occupational diseases, so that they do not suffer needlessly later in life and need to be supported prematurely by their families.

John Gee

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