Government initiatives to be rolled out to address worksite vehicle safety, prevent falls and amputation injuries

Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan said workplace accidents are preventable and could be averted through simple measures.
Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan said workplace accidents are preventable and could be averted through simple measures. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Preventing falls and amputation injuries, as well as on-site vehicular safety are three priority areas for the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) this year.

These priorities were announced by Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan on Wednesday (April 19).

He was speaking at the MOM and WSH Council's Programme-based Engagement (ProBE) Plus Forum, attended by more than 500 industry players.

Workplace accidents are preventable, said Mr Tan, adding that these could be averted through simple measures, such as the conduct of proper risk assessments, safety training and the adoption of safe work procedures.

Falls from height remain the top workplace killer here, but concerted effort by the industry has cut down the number of such fatalities.

There were 13 deaths due to falls last year, from 24 in 2009. About 70 per cent of these accidents occurred in small- and medium-sized enterprises.

As such, more support will be given to smaller construction worksites through the Mobile Work at Heights programme. Under this programme, appointed WSH professionals will visit worksites and offer practical guidance on work involving heights.

Some 300 Mobile Work at Heights visits will be conducted this year, up from 80 last year.

Apart from this programme, a case study booklet on accidents involving work at heights will offer some practical preventive measures. The booklet is available on the WSH Council website.

For on-site vehicular safety, a compliance assistance programme, called Managing On-site Vehicular Safety or MOVeS, will be rolled out.

Firms can look forward to free visits by WSH consultants, who will assess the work premises and help them in putting in place plans to manage risks involving movement and operation of vehicles.

A vehicular safety seminar, bringing together experts, practitioners and partners to share their experiences, is also planned for the later part of this year.

This comes as 12 workers were hit and killed by moving vehicles within workplaces last year, a 20 per cent jump from 2015.

A rising trend of amputation cases has also come up on the radar. A total of 143 such cases were reported last year, an increase of 22 per cent from 2015.

Hand injuries accounted for about 90 per cent of all cases.

To tackle this area, a seminar - to be held in the second half of this year - will educate industry partners on the good practices and preventive measures, such as machine guards, to eliminate hand injuries.

Mr Tan said making a living should not cost workers their limbs or lives, and urged partners to do more to foster a safe workplace.

The forum, held at the Singapore Expo, is an annual event aimed at addressing major causes of work fatalities and injuries, assisting firms in building competencies and raising WSH standards.

At the event, exhibitors also showcased a range of innovations to improve WSH standards.