The world’s estimated 150m migrant staff are at excessive threat of work-related damage and sickness, in response to a brand new examine that illustrates for the primary time the precarious and sometimes harmful nature of their working lives.
Migrant staff, who usually tend to be employed in low-wage and unsafe jobs than others within the labour pressure, skilled a variety of bodily and psychological issues within the nations the place they’re employed, in response to the report printed in The Lancet. The issues are compounded as a result of migrant staff typically have restricted entry to well being providers and, within the case of undocumented staff, are excluded from well being or insurance coverage schemes.
“[Migrant workers] could expertise vital occupational well being points and accidents in unskilled low-paid employment. Nonetheless, they’re largely ignored by policymakers and governments within the nations the place they work,” stated Sally Hargreaves, a lecturer in world well being at St George’s, College of London, and lead writer of the examine.
The report collected information from greater than 12,000 migrant staff, originating from 25 nations, with unskilled and handbook jobs. It discovered nearly half had skilled occupational well being points similar to musculoskeletal ache and pores and skin circumstances, and 22 per cent had reported accidents and accidents together with fractures, dislocations and falls.
To treatment this, the report advisable that restrictions on entry to well being providers for migrants ought to be eliminated, whereas governments ought to urgently enhance occupational well being providers, strengthen security regulation and widen entitlement to statutory medical providers and insurance coverage.
“We’re calling on governments to offer common and equitable entry to well being providers to all migrant populations,” Dr Hargreaves stated. Whereas the report lined a wide range of accidents and sicknesses affecting migrants, there have been no comparable information on the variety of work-related deaths, she added.
Migrant staff play a key position within the world economic system, sending dwelling billions of dollars annually, largely to low-and middle-income nations. North America and Europe are the 2 largest locations for migrants looking for work.
Ivan Ivanov, workforce chief for occupational and office well being on the World Well being Group, stated they often crammed gaps in labour markets that locals didn’t wish to do, similar to agricultural work in Europe or building work within the Center East.
One drawback was that whereas most migrant staff have been authorized, the query of healthcare didn’t often type a part of bilateral labour agreements beneath which they work, and so they have been not often briefed on their rights to heathcare overseas earlier than travelling to their new job, Dr Ivanov stated. He praised the work of commerce unions within the UK which had been efficient in circulating multi-language materials on office rights and occupational hazards.
Dr Hargreaves identified that even nations that scored effectively on basic entry to well being providers carried out poorly when it got here to migrant staff. For instance, migrant staff in Europe are disproportionately affected by HIV/Aids, but they’re typically denied entry to antiretroviral therapy of their host nations.
Psychological well being issues amongst migrant staff already experiencing lengthy hours, stress, isolation and melancholy are exacerbated by hostile employers and threats of deportation.
“Experiencing a unique tradition, a unique language and a unique local weather brings monumental stresses,” Dr Ivanov stated. Migrant staff additionally lacked social help and, as most save their earnings to ship dwelling, lived in cramped and insufficient housing.
Working circumstances and hours may be brutal, particularly in Gulf nations, stated Dr Ivanov. “Working greater than 55 hours every week will increase the danger of dying from stroke by 30 per cent,” he added.
The WHO will talk about a plan to enhance the well being of refugees and migrants on the World Well being Meeting in Geneva on Friday.