The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has, this week, made calls for more research to be carried out to find out whether migrant workers face higher health and safety risks, when compared to local workers. If, as expected, migrant workers are at a greater risk, IOSH believes research will help protect to protect these employees.
Language skills, cultural differences and inexperience are all factors which could place migrant workers at higher risk, but IOSH has stated that research so far has shown there is no method of identifying whether there are any specific health and safety risks for migrant workers or not, and therefore more research must be done.
What previous research has shown, is that in migrant workers are more likely to be found in sectors or occupations, where there are existing health and safety concerns such as agriculture and private sector cleaning. This finding was the result of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report, which interviewed 200 migrant workers in five regions of England and Wales. The HSE report also suggested that migrant workers status as new workers could also place them at higher risk due to their short periods of work in the UK, along with far less knowledge of health and safety standards and procedures compared to local workers.
HSE statistics show that although only six per cent of the UK's construction workforce is made up by migrant workers they account for 17 per cent of work-related deaths in the sector - the disproportionate number of migrant deaths clearly shows a gap in migrant worker training which needs addressing. Research conducted by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) found that picture aids can help migrant workers avoid hazardous situations at work. Their report concluded that deaths and injuries among migrant construction workers could be reduced if pictures were used in safety training; simply translating health and safety training into their worker's first languages is not enough according to the recommendations made by GCU, as many migrant workers arriving in the UK have literacy issues.
IOSH research and information services manager Jane White, said, "the research findings are very interesting. But, it is clear that more work has to be done on the health and safety of migrant workers". She then added: "It is concerning that there are no current methods of identifying whether there are any specific health and safety risks for migrant workers" - this is the gap in research which must be addressed, to ensure UK employers can best protect their workforce.
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