More gig workers can go for regular health screenings and more with extended initiative

SINGAPORE – More self-employed workers, including those from the gig sector, will be able to attend physical activity classes and go for regular health screenings under an initiative to help self-employed people stay healthy and fit.

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) said on Friday it is extending the health initiative it had piloted in 2019 for these workers to another 7,000 of them by 2024.

As at August, 13,000 workers have participated in the initiative, which comprises quarterly health screening and health coaching sessions, and mental wellness workshops, as well as weekly physical activity classes run by the HPB.

Most participants currently are taxi and private-hire car drivers, delivery riders, private tutors, or sports and fitness instructors.

At a showcase of two of three health programmes under the initiative held at Grab’s Tampines service centre on Friday, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary noted that 70 per cent of gig workers are aged above 40.

He said those aged above 40 are at higher risk of developing chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes in general.

This, coupled with the largely sedentary work and irregular schedules of gig workers, makes it essential to reach as many of them as possible, including through partnerships with platforms that host such workers and unions they are members of.

“(That’s) the age where you can really make a difference when you start to… (make) changes to your lifestyle, changes to your physical activity, changes to your diet,” said Dr Janil, who is co-chair of the Tripartite Oversight Committee on Workplace Safety and Health.

The HPB initiative was launched under the auspices of a sub-committee of the oversight committee, which focuses on supporting mature workers.

At the event, about 150 Grab private-hire drivers and delivery riders in total signed up for health screening and coaching, as well as a mental wellness workshop that involved building a terrarium, an arrangement of plants in a clear container.

At the screening, workers had their body mass index and blood pressure measured, as well as their blood taken to test for blood sugar and cholesterol.

They were coached on nutrition, stretching and strengthening exercises, posture and mental well-being after the screening.

Other kinds of mental wellness workshops available under HPB’s programme include hands-on activities such as leather crafting and tote bag painting that incorporate wellness tips.

The 13,000 participants in the initiative as at August are from taxi company ComfortDelGro, foodpanda and Grab, as well as from among self-employed members of the National Trades Union Congress who fall under its freelancers and self-employed unit.