• Vol. 33 No. 2, 209–213
  • 15 March 2004

Work-related Injury Sustained by Foreign Workers in Singapore



Introduction: Singapore has a resident population of 3.26 million and 0.53 million foreign workers. The objective of the study was to compare the injuries sustained by foreign and local workers presenting to an emergency department (ED).

Materials and Methods: Adult victims of work-related injury who presented to an urban public hospital ED from 1 December 1998 to 31 May 1999 were interviewed. Chart reviews were done for those hospitalised. Data collected were those of demographic, nature of injury, ambulance care, ED and hospital care, outcome and final diagnoses.

Results: There were 1244 local workers and 1936 foreign workers, giving a ratio of 1 local:1.6 foreign workers. The mean age of foreign workers was 29.6 years [standard deviation (SD) 6.2], which was younger (P <0.0001) than the mean age 37.8 years (SD 14) of local workers. Fridays and Saturdays were the common days for injuries among foreign workers as opposed to Wednesdays and Mondays for local workers. Falls from height >2m occurred among 9.1% of foreign workers, more (P <0.0001) common than 4.3% of local workers, resulting in 2 out of 3 foreign workers death. Though the pattern of injuries was similar between foreign and local workers, foreign workers needed longer (P = 0.03) sick leave and more (P = 0.01) foreign workers were hospitalised, giving a ratio of 2 foreign workers for every 1 local worker hospitalised.

Conclusion: Foreign workers had no difficulty accessing ED and hospital care for work-related injuries. The pattern and severity of injuries were similar between foreign and local workers but more foreign workers were hospitalised.

Singapore has a resident population of 3.26 million and 0.53 million foreign workers. Of these half a million foreigners, 450,000 are work permit holders, typically working in lower skill industries and blue-collar sectors, e.g. construction industry.

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