Workplace safety situation 'can be tackled with tech'

Preliminary findings indicate that 66 workers had died in workplace accidents last year, similar to 2015.
Preliminary findings indicate that 66 workers had died in workplace accidents last year, similar to 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

Sam Tan's call to firms comes after 66 workers died in work accidents last year, similar to 2015

Technology can help companies address the "worrying" workplace safety and health situation, Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan said yesterday.

His remarks came as he announced that preliminary findings indicate 66 workers had died in workplace accidents last year, similar to the year before.

It means the fatality rate has remained at 1.9 per 100,000 people employed and is still above the national target Singapore is aiming for by next year - fewer than 1.8 deaths per 100,000 people employed.

"We owe it to our workers to keep them safe and healthy so that they go to work and return home safely to their families every single day," said Mr Tan, speaking to more than 400 people at the inaugural WSH (Workplace Safety and Health) Tech Symposium at the Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre. "Let us embrace and harness technology to push new frontiers to bring about safer, healthier and more productive workplaces for our workers in a manpower-lean workforce," he said.

Mr Tan announced that the Manpower Ministry's Snap@MOM mobile app, which people can use to report unsafe work practices, has been upgraded. The new version, which will be released in the middle of this year, will allow companies to track and analyse their workplace safety and health statistics. The reports generated are meant for the companies to use in-house and will not be sent to the ministry, unlike those from the original app, said Mr Tan.

STAYING SAFE

Let us embrace and harness technology to push new frontiers to bring about safer, healthier and more productive workplaces for our workers in a manpower-lean workforce.

MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANPOWER SAM TAN, at the inaugural WSH (Workplace Safety and Health) Tech Symposium yesterday.

He also gave examples of how technology can help with safety training, monitoring workplace practices and preventing accidents.

At the Building Leadership Simulation Centre in Melbourne, which he visited recently, supervisors and workers learn to deal with worksite challenges in a risk-free virtual reality simulation.

In another example, JTC Corporation and Nanyang Technological University, together with local start-up Aitech Robotics and Automation, developed a robot that can paint 10m-high ceilings of industrial buildings, removing the risk of workers falling from height.

Mr Zhang Weiliang, chief executive of home-grown drone development firm Avetics Global which uses drones to inspect industrial settings, said interest in their service has been increasing.

Drone inspections can be used instead of having workers clamber up scaffoldings or abseil down the sides of buildings,he said. "We hope this can reduce work-at- height accidents," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'Workplace safety situation 'can be tackled with tech''. Print Edition | Subscribe