SINGAPORE - The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the stress on migrant workers in the traditionally high-risk work environment of the marine and offshore engineering industry.
So apart from ensuring workers' occupational health, the industry needs to look at the physical and mental toll that the pandemic has wrought on them, said Mr Simon Kuik, president of the Association of Singapore Marine Industries (Asmi).
As part of its efforts, Asmi launched on Friday (Nov 12) the Marine Migrant Workers Mental Health Challenge, a virtual run to raise funds for the workers.
The aim is to get participants to collectively clock 5,000km.
The funds come from an ongoing campaign on crowdfunding website Give.Asia, from the sale of merchandise to participants and from corporate donors.
The money collected will go towards 5,000 care packs for migrant workers, to be distributed on Dec 18, International Migrants Day.
Over $60,000 - enough for 4,200 care packs - has already been raised over the past two weeks through sponsorships from companies in the industry, and more donations are expected in the coming weeks.
The challenge was launched during Asmi's workplace safety and health innovation convention held in Jurong Town Hall.
Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health Koh Poh Koon, the guest of honour at the convention, thanked Asmi for galvanising the industry into raising awareness of the importance of mental health.
"Our migrant workers... contribute significantly to the development and progress of our nation and as Singapore continues to battle Covid-19, some of them may really find it very hard to keep their spirits up," said Dr Koh.
He said the Ministry of Manpower is sparing no effort to strengthen the mental health support system for migrant workers, citing Project Dawn as an example.
Project Dawn is a task force set up in November last year to enhance mental health care support for migrant workers in Singapore.
Dr Koh noted that Asmi is a key supporter of Project Dawn initiatives, such as the implementation of informal buddy systems and the training of dedicated peer support leaders (PSLs).
"The PSLs are trained in psychological first aid to lend a listening ear to their friends, identify individuals who may be in distress and hopefully direct them towards early intervention," he said.
More than 30 companies have donated to the mental health challenge.
Strategic Marine Singapore is one of the top three corporate donors, which each received a token of appreciation from Dr Koh on Friday.
Chief corporate finance officer Ivan Koh told The Straits Times that the shipbuilding company views its migrant workers as both assets and family members.
"It's just humane at this point in time that we... support them the best we can - it's not just about paying them their salary but also taking care of their welfare."