Health risks of migrant workers

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Discussions about migration usually revolve around its impact on host locations. Are migrants stealing locals’ jobs or supporting the local economy? What kind of migration thresholds and migration policies should be in place? What should migrants do to integrate better into local communities? All these questions are naturally important, yet, there are very important considerations on the other side as well…

A recent special report by the Knowable Magazine highlights the vulnerability of migrant workers and their associated health risks, which seem to substantially outweigh the situation of native-born workers. According to occupational health researcher Marc Schenker of the University of California, migrant workers frequently experience a power imbalance with their employers, have fewer rights and less governmental support, such as health care, which all leads to potential health risks and actual health problems. Indeed, statistical data shows that in general migrants tend to work more hours than native-born people and they are more likely to work in dirty, dangerous and disgusting jobs – the ones that the local population doesn’t want to take. Moreover, these hazardous conditions are often paired with a lack of adequate training and protective equipment, which naturally increases both risks of occupational injuries and fatalities. For example, heat stress injuries tend to be most prevalent among agricultural workers, who often are not provided with enough water, rest and shade. Direct work conditions are also paired with migrants’ background factors, such as a lack of understanding of local health systems, poverty, language barriers, and illegal status, which further contribute to the risks and may prevent migrants from speaking up on the matters of their occupational well-being.

Primary recommendations on the matter seem quite obvious. On the receiving side, organizations should improve safety training, provide migrant workers with adequate working conditions and generally strive towards fair labour practices. The wellbeing of migrant workers should also be a concern of sending countries, as remittances sent home by migrant workers boost their economies. Thereof, sending countries can cooperate with receiving countries on providing for better protections. For example, local recruiting agencies could do a better job of checking the background of receiving companies and ensuring proper working contracts for their clients.

Finally, the wellbeing of migrant workers is also a matter of governments in general. Treatment of migrant workers is a reflection of the wider position and policies towards immigrants in the country. Whenever governments adopt anti-migrant, protectionist and xenophobic sentiments, it is probably hard to expect fair rights, and equal treatment of those, who come from abroad…

One thought on “Health risks of migrant workers

  1. The majority of immigrants arrive in a state of vulnerability, although regulated immigration is not bad, if it must be controlled, let’s see the case of Venezuela, the population is leaving their country, because of the deplorable living conditions, hunger, misery, health, lack of attention, etc. The neighboring countries of Venezuela are invaded by immigrants, causing serious financial upheavals in these countries, such as health. causing the country’s indigenous population, lack of resources, in order to provide adequate health care to the inhabitants of the country of welcome, immigration must be legal and controlled, and the governments that receive these people must apply their immigration laws, for any foreigner who wants to enter or reside in the country.

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