More workers die in falls from height

Falls Prevention Campaign launched, firms urged to be vigilant, especially in festive 'rush'

More people died from "fall from height" accidents in workplaces in the first 10 months this year, compared with all of 2014.

From January to October, 16 people died and 87 suffered major injuries in such accidents. Last year, 10 died and 88 suffered major injuries, including amputation, blindness and paralysis.

Releasing the latest statistics at the launch of the first Falls Prevention Campaign yesterday, Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan called the numbers "worrying and unacceptable". "Falls are a major cause for concern," he said, noting that they form the top cause of workplace deaths and major injuries.

Other causes are being struck by moving objects, collapse or failure of structures and equipment, and work-related traffic accidents.

The inaugural campaign, which will last for three months, coincided with the festive season because "we tend to let our guard down, especially when the holidays are around the corner", said Mr Tan.

"The campaign will highlight the importance of not overlooking seemingly small things at work, such as not cleaning up spilled water on the floor or not putting things back in their rightful place," he added.

He urged firms to stay vigilant, as workers may either "rush to wrap up work before the year-end break" or be "busy managing more businesses during the festive season".

Mr Tan also said that companies need to do more to prevent employees from slipping or tripping over items, which is the main factor for both major and minor injuries.

Between January and June last year, one person died, 84 suffered major injuries and 1,409 people had minor ones. In the same period this year, although there were no deaths, 67 people suffered major injuries and 1,350, minor ones.

While falls from height happen more in the construction sector, slip and trip falls happen across sectors such as metalworking, wholesale trade and logistics, said Mr Tan.

He noted that his ministry, under a sweep called Operation Cormorant, had issued nine stop-work orders after conducting more than 300 checks at worksites and factories since mid-October. Officers looked out for unsafe work practices when working at height, operating cranes and in traffic management.

He said the ministry plans to check about 200 more worksites by mid-December.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2015, with the headline 'More workers die in falls from height'. Print Edition | Subscribe