Transient Workers’ Count Too’s Work Fatigue survey (see here for more about the study) was featured in Today newspaper on 6 May 2017. As often is the case in Singapore, the story leads with a headline (“Firms which don’t give workers enough rest taken to task: MOM”) and a response from the government claiming that all is under control.
Nonetheless, the news story listed the salient facts from our research:
The TWC2 survey of 577 male foreign workers — which was conducted in November last year and published recently — found that almost 20 per cent of them work at least 12.5 hours each day, among other findings. This translates to an average of 3.5 hours or more of overtime work a day, potentially exceeding the legal cap of 72 overtime hours per month. The situation was particularly acute among the construction sector, where the proportion was 23.1 per cent. features our Work Fatigue stud
Apart from longer working hours resulting in the lack of rest, other contributing factors include having to report very early for work, wait for a long time for company transport, and queue to use the bathroom at dormitories.
— Today, 6 May 2017, Firms which don’t give workers enough rest taken to task: MOM
MOM provided a tidbit of a factoid: in the last three years, an average of about 150 employers a year were found to have breached the limit of overtime work for its workers. These errant companies have been “warned, fined or prosecuted”, reported Today. They have also had their “privilege to hire foreign workers suspended”.
Today mentioned that according to MOM Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) guidelines, the effects of fatigue can include physical and mental impairment as well as increase in error rates. Workers could also be slow in responding to situations and face a higher risk of injuries.
To TWC2’s comment that our data shows that legislation is widely ignored, the MOM spokesperson said the ministry has stepped up enforcement actions since 2014. Each year, MOM conducts more than 6,500 inspections on companies. A vast majority of them were found to adhere to the regulations on working hours, the spokesperson told the newspaper.
The MOM spokesperson noted that findings from a WSH Institute study on all construction-related fatal injuries last year “pointed to poor supervision, communications and coordination at work, and not excessive overwork, as key contributory factors in these cases”.
We would note that this comment only relates to the fatal injuries (less than 100), not the thousands of non-fatal injuries.
The full news story can be found here.