Presentation on theme: "The implication of migration for health and safety Dr Sonia McKay."— Presentation transcript:
The implication of migration for health and safety Dr Sonia McKay
Background Large numbers of migrant workers, notably from A8, dispersing further across regions of UK More employers ranging from large national companies to SMEs taking on diverse workforces Evolving recruitment routes of temporary workers, in particular through agencies and labour providers of varying types Headline incidents such as Morecambe Bay combined with anecdotal information from HSE inspectors that migrant workers at risk However, Issue of measuring impact of work on health more generally missing
The research Two projects Migrant workers in England and Wales – an assessment of their health and safety risks One death is too many – Enquiry into fatalities in the construction industry. Establish whether there are specific or general risks that affect migrant workers Assess whether the situation of migrant workers places them at increased risk, compared with other workers in similar positions Examine fatalities in one sector
Definitions and Methodology Migrant workers = people who have come to UK with last five years to find work, whether temporary or permanent, and irrespective of whether documented or undocumented Focus on workers in routine manual occupations in six sectors Construction; Agriculture; Food processing, packaging and distribution Health and social care; Cleaning; Hospitality A. Qualitative research - interviews with 200 migrants, 60+ employers, 30+ key respondents from five regions of England and Wales B. Analysis of 28 fatalities in a three year period through HFACS (Human factors analysis and classification system: mapping predominant causes to direct or underlying organisational, policy and external ‘levels’ to enable comparison
Health and Safety Statistics and Reports Statutory reporting systems for measuring fatalities, accidents, injuries and ill health did not include information that allows for identification of migrants Available statistics indicate that higher risk to self-employed and contract workers than direct employees Comparative analysis with LFS and field experience suggests that there is considerable under-reporting – as little as only 5% reported
Migrant Worker Terms and Conditions Typically minimum wage in low skilled jobs with few benefits; relatively highly educated and skilled for the tasks. Often working long hours and anti-social shifts, meeting demand for cheap, flexible labour that the local labour market cannot fill for various reasons. Some working more than one job. Many engaged through agencies and labour providers, some recruited in home countries. Frequent complaints about lack of information, irregular hours, unclear deductions and other problems with agencies. Undocumented workers especially vulnerable to exploitation due to limited rights and lack of support. Few members of trade unions or other forms of collective representation. Many unaware or uncertain of their rights and the responsibilities of their employers.
Sector Characteristics 1 Construction: Highly fragmented – many sub-contractors and large informal sector. Uses mobile ‘self-employed’ workers. Migrants filling gaps in skilled trades as well as general labourers. Food: Production growth and seasonal and promotion orders from supermarkets have driven demand for flexible workforce on shift-work. Very low paid for employment in basic operative tasks. Agriculture: Overall decline in sector but continued need for seasonal labour with greater flexibility to meet supplier and supermarket demands
Sector Characteristics 2 Cleaning: Service industry with highly competitive contracts and demand for cheap labour moving between different sites and working hours outside the normal day. Care work: NHS and care home demand for nursing and care staff resulted in direct recruitment from overseas. Private sector taken on over-qualified nurses for basic care assistant work in night shifts. Hospitality: Large amount of temporary, casual and seasonal work in restaurants and hotels, also large informal economy.
Common Trends in Sectors Highly competitive contracting processes Growth in use of temporary agency workers Need for flexible/mobile workforce in routine occupations Anti-social shift patterns Intersections with informal economy Unclear lines of responsibility for site conditions
Fatalities study In 2007/08 12 migrant/foreign workers killed in construction, increase from 8 the previous year. Is there a greater risk? Do the numbers merely reflect higher % of migrant workers in the sector Impact of age –youth/older on fatalities
Findings on H&S Around a quarter of the migrant workers had personally experienced or witnessed an accident at work. Reported problems included repetitive strain injuries, back problems, general fatigue and tiredness from anti-social shifts and long hours, stress caused by managers and co-workers. Induction training and communication on health and safety was often limited or even non-existent. Lack of understanding due to language and/or cultural differences was often not checked for. Personal protective equipment was sometimes not provided adequately and/or not used appropriately. Manual handling equipment and training, rotation of tasks, provision of occupational health checks was inadequate in some sites Widespread lack of knowledge of health and safety and of workplace rights
Contributing Risk Factors 1 Jobs generally not more risky as such, but migrant workers more likely to be in positions where inherent risks. Relatively short periods of work in the UK contribute to limited knowledge of the health and safety system and its differences from workplace practices in home countries Motivations in coming to the UK, often premised on earning as much as possible, result in a willingness to take on long hours and irregular shifts in any available work Communication difficulties with co-workers and supervisors due to a lack of English or other common language, leading to lack of understanding of instructions and potential risks Inadequate employer procedures for checking on skills and abilities and ensuring access to and understanding of health and safety inductions and on-going training
Contributing Risk Factors 2 Unclear H&S responsibilities and gaps in procedures between different employers, in particular where temporary agency workers and/or are nominally self-employed Lack of knowledge of health and safety rights and absence of worker representatives, resulting in inability to raise concerns and fear of negative ramifications from employers Experiences of discrimination and racism by BAME workers in particular causing stress – favouritism contributing to greater exposure to more difficult work conditions Women with little information or support when pregnant or looking after children Undocumented workers vulnerable to exploitation
Concluding Remarks Evidence that migrant workers carrying out a lot of the demanding, dangerous and/or dirty manual work in the UK Whether patterns of long/irregular hours, anti-social shifts, workplace stress etc lead to greater H&S risks is still open to debate – quantitative relationships unproven but qualitative evidence mounting Suggestion that accidents and incidents may increase due to migrant workers, but alternate explanations are that Growth of temporary, agency, casual, ‘self-employed’ and other forms of ‘precarious’ work relationships may complicate responsibility for H&S Decrease in HSE regulatory activities in favour of business support role may deflect resources and action
Fatalities In 2007/08 12 migrant/foreign workers killed in construction, increase from 8 the previous year. Is there a greater risk? Do the numbers reflect higher % of migrant workers in the sector Impact of age –youth/older on fatalities