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All industries - Background information

At least 10% of the UK workforce is made up of overseas workers. The European Union (EU) expansion in 2004 and 2007 opened the labour market to a further 100 million citizens. More and more overseas workers are being employed in Britain in particular in industries such as: agriculture and food processing; catering and hospitality; cleaning; construction; healthcare; IT and the manufacturing industries.

Some British-based businesses use overseas agents to recruit people for them. Some agents are effectively employed by British-based businesses, while others appear to be completely free agents able to agree contracts with individual labour providers and labour users.

Working in industries where there are well-known health and safety risks, overseas workers may be more at risk because of:

Risk assessments should address the particular needs of migrant workers. Good communication, comprehensible information, instruction and training and access to supervisors with whom they can communicate are especially important. The duty on employers to provide information in a form that workers can understand (regardless of their background) is made clear in the Approved Code of Practice and guidance to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (L21 ISBN 978 0 7176 2488 1).

Further information can be found in the industry specific sections.