Take workplace safety, health issues seriously

The article on the fire at Leeden National Oxygen ("Victim leaves behind 6-month-old girl"; last Wednesday) shows how heartbreaking workplace accidents can be.

It is especially painful to know that the victim is a young mother who left behind a six-month-old child. Not only were her family members, colleagues and friends affected, but the accident also saddened many Singaporeans.

Last year, there were 60 workplace fatalities in Singapore ("Fewer killed at work, but it's still 'too high' "; Feb 6), which means that, on average, there were more than one of such tragedy every week.

Furthermore, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), "every day, 6,300 people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases".

The ILO also estimates that occupational diseases "kill six times more workers than work-related accidents".

However, the symptoms of occupational diseases or disorders, such as lung disease, musculoskeletal disorders and noise-induced deafness, can take years to appear and their causes may be difficult to establish.

Because of this, occupational diseases seldom capture the attention of the public and most do not know the scale of the problem.

There is a need to place more emphasis on safety and health in workplaces. Not only must Leeden National Oxygen improve its safety and health management, as well as its safety culture, but we should all take proactive actions to raise safety awareness in the organisations we work in.

Goh Yang Miang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2015, with the headline 'Take workplace safety, health issues seriously'. Print Edition | Subscribe