Forum: Construction firms must be serious about safety

The Ministry of Manpower said that with the Chinese New Year festive period approaching, some companies may be ramping up work activities to meet deadlines. It reminded firms of the need to review work practices and ensure the necessary safeguards ar
The Ministry of Manpower said that with the Chinese New Year festive period approaching, some companies may be ramping up work activities to meet deadlines. It reminded firms of the need to review work practices and ensure the necessary safeguards are in place.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had to remind companies to ensure workplace safety, after three workplace deaths since the start of the year (MOM reminds firms to ensure workplace safety, Jan 20).

Any accidental death is a great loss to the family of the departed.

I worked for a large construction company in Singapore for 12 years, from 2004 to 2016. I don't recall there being any fatal accidents in any of the various construction sites that were operating simultaneously during my time with the company.

This was possible because the company had in place a very tight health and safety regime, and employed a handful of competent safety officers to oversee all aspects of safety within the construction sites.

The officers were proactive and strict, and made their presence felt while work was going on at the sites. Any misstep by workers in terms of safety was immediately rectified without compromise.

The MOM's enforcement blitz to weed out safety lapses at construction sites may spur construction companies to be more proactive, but it will not prevent further fatalities as long as companies adopt a less-than-serious attitude towards the safety of workers.

Neo Poh Goon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2020, with the headline 'Construction firms must be serious about safety'. Print Edition | Subscribe