Get tough on management when accidents happen

One wonders why workplace injuries keep rising despite the various safety campaigns and programmes to promote and prevent workplace accidents ("Workplace injuries on the rise"; Feb 15).

The current system of fines and punitive measures may not have a long-term deterrent effect.

Other measures could be explored.

Managing safety is akin to managing a business. If one can manage a business, one should be able to manage safety and be responsible for its outcome.

Hence, should a dangerous occurrence or fatality happen at the workplace, stiffer action than what is in practice presently should be taken against the director and occupier of the worksite or factory.

Also, the minimum duration of a stop-work order could be extended from the current three weeks.

The time spent on investigation and preparation of court cases for prosecution could be made chargeable to the parties concerned. Claims for damages could also be allowed.

This would have a significant impact on the work progress and finances, which would influence a change in the management's attitude towards safety and create a mindset change towards accident prevention and safety in the workplace.

Safety should be an integral part of construction, and be viewed as an asset rather than a liability.

It is important to have an approach that creates an indirect change in culture and mindset at all levels of site management.

Lim Boon Khoon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'Get tough on management when accidents happen'. Print Edition | Subscribe