Graphs by Debbie Fordyce with additional reporting by Alex Au

As can be seen from the graph at Cuff Road Project 2011: Types of cases seen, Transient Workers Count Too saw an average of 65 new cases of injured workers each month at our soup kitchen in 2011. Most of the time, we saw the same men for several months thereafter.

The graph below shows the proportion of each month’s meal registrants categorised by the length of time since their injury. The median is about six or seven months. A small but noticeable number were still around 18 months after the accident.

These numbers are not just statistical curiosities; they represent real hardship.

As described in the article Injured workers fall through upkeep gap, once injured, a worker is typically left penniless. For some of them, it is hard enough getting their employers to pay for medical care; in nearly all the cases that come to TWC2, the workers have not received MC pay, or any upkeep and maintenance. (These terms and the systemic failure behind them are explained in the forementioned article.)

The Ministry of Manpower, analysing their own data from 2010, found that four in five injured workers had their cases settled within six months, which is much shorter than the dwell time from TWC2’s figures where slightly more than half were still around after the six-month point. Four out of five TWC2 cases aren’t settled until about eleven or twelve months after their accident. The most likely reason for the difference would be that TWC2 sees the more serious cases. Indeed, it stands to reason that the more serious the injury and the more complicated the case (e.g. difficulty getting employers to pay for treatment) the more likely a man is reach desperation and to seek additional avenues of help.

Data published by the ministry showed 10, 319 workmen’s injury claims in 2010, though the figure does seem to include Singaporeans as well.  Assuming the number remains roughly constant through 2011, then TWC2’s 800 new cases a year thus represent about 8% of the national total.

Roughly in keeping with the proportion of Indian and Bangladeshi workers we see at out food programme, injured Bangladeshi workers outnumber injured Indian workers.

Sri Lankans are notable by their absence. This is almost surely related to the observation that Sri Lankans, who typically arrive on tourist passes and then look for work, tend to find (illegal) work in restaurants and catering, which is not so dangerous. But taking the illegal route means that when they do get injured, employers are very likely to disclaim responsibility and the guy is not eligible for compensation under the Work Injury Compensation Act.

See also:

Cuff Road Project 2011: Meals and nationalities

Cuff Road Project 2011: Types of cases seen

Cuff Road Project 2011: ‘Company cases’ and overstayers