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Migrant Domestic Workers: Promoting Occupational Safety and Health

Migrant Domestic Workers: Promoting Occupational Safety and Health

by IDWFED published Apr 07, 2016 12:00 AM
Contributors: ILO
Global Action Programme on Migrant Domestic Workers - Research series in support of June 2016 project report release. Based on a report elaborated by Elisa Menegatti.

Resource Type

Research reports, working paper



The  International  Labour  Organization  Constitution sets forth the principle that workers should be protected from sickness, disease and injury arising from their  employment.  Yet  for  millions  of  workers  the  reality is very different. Some two million people die every year from work-related accidents and diseases.

The  suffering  caused  by  such  accidents  and  illnesses to workers and their families is incalculable. Due  to  the  high employment  rates  of  foreign-born workers in high-risk sectors such as domestic work, migrants  and  particularly  those  in  an  irregular  status, are at greater risk for occupational injuries and work-related diseases, as well as death at work.

While a minority of migrant workers hold high-skilled jobs, many have jobs that are dirty, dangerous and demanding (so called “3D jobs”) and consequently face  high  risks  of  work-related  accidents  and  disease.

As the demand for domestic work grows due to  population  aging  and  the  progressive  entry  of  women into the labor force of destination countries, more  women  -  and  a  few  men  -  from  poorer  countries  are  migrating  in  search  of  employment  opportunities. Domestic work is not necessarily their first option but the only one available for them.

Indeed,  the  ILO  recognizes  that  domestic  workers  can  be  particularly  vulnerable  to  certain  Occupational  Safety  and  Health  (OSH)  risks  including working long hours, limited rest, exposure to chemicals,  lifting  heavy  weights,  specific  psychosocial  
risks  and  violence.

These  risks  may  be  higher  in  case  a  domestic  worker  is  also  a  migrant,  due  to  lack of legal protection, linguistic, social and cultural barriers.


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