Migrant Workers And Alcoholism

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By: B Goode

Nary a day passed by without news of a death of a migrant worker in a worksite accident. This year alone, many have perished. Many more have been maimed.

There are of course many reasons for the accidents ranging from negligence, faulty equipment, safety issues, carelessness and the list could go on for as long as Captain Obvious could fly before running out of excuses.

But there is one reason that has never been spoken out loud because people are afraid to discuss it openly for fear of being accused of indulging in profiling, stereotyping, typecasting and all those big words that social justice warriors love to use when they are in denial of the truth.

I am talking about accidents due to the effects of alcohol.

There is no denying the existence of a drinking culture amongst the foreign workers. You just need to visit any of the dormitories in the evenings, regardless of the day of the week to find the residents enjoying their beers in the open spaces within the compound. I am not saying all of them but there are enough to worry you.

There is a law against drinking in public places after 10.30pm. There is also a law against selling alcohol after 10.30 pm. Yet, they will be drinking beyond those hours and the shops inside the dormitories will be selling alcohol beyond those hours too sometimes under the very noses of the police who patrol regularly.

And on weekends it’s even worst.

For us who drink, we already know the effects of alcohol. If it is not the intoxication, it’s the hangover. Whatever it is, it will impact on our work performance. It is one thing to be working in the comfort of an air-conditioned office, and another to be working in a construction site under the hot sun surrounded by heavy machineries.

Everyone; the employers, the migrant workers, the NGOs and the enforcement agencies must work together to ensure the safety of the migrant workers. And this includes ensuring that they are at their peak physical conditions when they are at work.

We could start off by educating them. If that doesn’t work, a more drastic action may be required like banning the consumption and sales of alcohols in the dormitories during weekdays.

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