Some of these jobs were thrust into the limelight thanks to the pandemic, and so were their inherent risks. Here’s why they make a compelling case for an insurance boost.
It is no secret that the stereotypical Singaporean has a negative image of ‘manual labour’ jobs—also known as non-PMETs (professionals, managers, executives, and technicians). This is despite many such jobs being the ones deemed ‘essential’ amid the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Of course, there are reasons for this. These jobs tend to have lower or inconsistent income streams, less social prestige, and—from a health perspective—are also riskier. That’s why we recommend they get additional insurance protection.
But what exactly are these jobs, and what makes them so risky? In today’s article we will shine a spotlight on four of them, exploring the daily risks they face in the pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families.
Job #1: Construction
You don’t need us to tell you that working in construction is risky. All you need to do is look at what the workers are doing as you walk past any construction site. According to the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSH), the top hazards facing workers in the industry are:
- Falls from heights
- Potential collapse of structures
- Trips, slips, and falls
- Injuries to the hand
And according to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the construction industry received the dubious honour of being the ‘top contributor’ to workplace fatal injuries in 2019—unchanged for the past 10 years. That said, the rate has fallen to a third of what it was ten years ago, a testament to constantly improving safety standards.
In terms of ‘major injuries’, the construction industry came in second, behind manufacturing. It’s interesting to note that while this rate has also improved over the past decade, it was far more modest at about 20%. Make no mistake—despite improvements, construction is still a risky business.
Job #2: Taxi or private hire drivers
According to the United State’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), taxi drivers are 20 times more likely to be murdered on the job compared to other workers. Fortunately, murders in Singapore are extremely rare, but the point remains—being a taxi (or private hire) driver, is riskier compared to many other jobs.
The reasons behind this higher risk are obvious when you stop to think about it. Taxi drivers are more likely to have cash on hand, be alone in isolated areas, and must often deal with intoxicated people. And of course, in these times, they face an additional risk of contracting COVID-19, so much so that a local taxi company is testing out plastic barriers between drivers and passengers. For this group, in particular, a personal accident insurance plan that also covers COVID-19 would be ideal.
Job #3: Hawkers and food vendors
Do you suffer from lower back pain despite sitting on a comfortable, adjustable, ergonomically designed chair? A big reason is probably poor sitting posture.
Now, imagine how bad it would be if you had to stand up your entire workday? And we don’t mean standing in perfect posture like the guards outside Buckingham Palace either (although that would also be a challenge). We’re talking about being hunched over in awkward postures, all while having to constantly lift, push, and pull various objects—often at ‘office lunch hour’ speeds.
Doesn’t sound ‘hazardous’ enough? Well, consider that the WSH has a whole 60-page document relating to workplace safety and health guidelines in the food and beverage industry. Awkward postures, manual handling, prolonged standing, and repetitive movements are all listed as strong risk factors for musculoskeletal injuries and disorders. On top of that there’s also ‘thermal stress’ from standing close to heat sources all day long, which creates risks for burns and scalds.
Job #4: Cleaners
In 1958, Lee Kuan Yew started the ‘Keep Singapore Clean’ campaign. Since then, the country has been widely regarded as the cleanest city on the continent, and one of the top in the world. Stringent littering laws aside, there is a cost to keeping the country clean. As of this writing, the National Environment Agency lists 1,381 licensed cleaning companies in the nation.
And if there are that many companies, think about how many people there must be working as cleaners. They play a necessary—yet often thankless—role in our society. And on top of that, they must face occupational hazards as well.
Besides the potential injury risk that come from repetitive manual labour, there’s also the hazards from cleaning chemicals to deal with. As the WSH notes:
“Some chemicals are hazardous and may be corrosive, irritating, toxic, flammable, or carcinogenic. Direct skin contact with some chemicals may cause burns or skin rashes from irritation or allergy. Chemical spills and splashes may damage the eyes. Volatile chemicals such as solvents can be inhaled.”
It’s not surprising then that the government will make it mandatory for all cleaners to undergo workplace safety and health training beginning in 2022. The next time you walk past a cleaner, think not only of the contribution they are making to the country, but also the risks they face in doing so.
Manage your risk with personal accident insurance
If you are working in one of these ‘higher-risk’ jobs, it only makes sense to protect yourself using personal accident insurance (among others). The problem is that many insurers will charge you higher premiums if you have one of these jobs—a practice known as ‘occupational loading’.
Find one in the button below that does away with all that and provides good medical coverage.
Read these next:
Do You Have a ‘Dangerous’ Job? Here Are The Insurance Plans You Need
Personal Accident vs Life & Medical Insurance: What You Need to Know
Infectious Diseases Insurance: Best Plans to Protect Yourself
6 Situations You Never Knew Personal Accident Insurance Plans Cover
Part-Time Jobs And Where to Find Them During Circuit Breaker
By Ian Lee
Ian is a former investment banker turned freelance financial and investment writer. He specialises in creating versatile finance content for the attention economy on topics ranging from personal finance and investing to fintech and cryptocurrencies.