There have been 20 workplace deaths so far this year, half of which happened last month. Many factors have contributed to this alarming number.
One is that some workplace safety and health officers and other environment, health and safety professionals were deployed to perform non-safety-related functions during the pandemic. This has affected their core safety functions and responsibilities.
Not all workers who returned to construction sites and other workplaces may have undergone refresher safety training courses.
The gradual opening of the economy and lifting of restrictions have led many contractors to expedite long delayed work. Workers may be required to work overtime, and this fatigue may affect their work performance and attention to safety protocols.
To help circumvent future accidents in the long term, I recommend the following:
• Deploy one or two safety inspectors from the Ministry of Manpower to construction sites or sectors with high-risk activities and high accident rates. Their presence would have a positive impact on work safety.
• For every accident or dangerous incident that is investigated by the authorities, the contractor should be charged an investigation fee.
• Introduce legislation requiring companies in construction and other sectors to appoint a board director to be responsible for safety.
Lim Boon Khoon