$2m fund to tackle traffic fatalities at work

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, ILO director- general Guy Ryder (far left) and ISSA president Joachim Breuer pushing a frame in the shape of a briefcase to launch the 21st World Congress on Safety and Health at Work yesterday.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, ILO director- general Guy Ryder (far left) and ISSA president Joachim Breuer pushing a frame in the shape of a briefcase to launch the 21st World Congress on Safety and Health at Work yesterday.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

It will cover research into solutions that address key causes such as driver fatigue and blind spots

A $2 million government fund has been set up to pay for research into technologies that can help reduce the number of workers killed in traffic accidents.

The fund will cover research into solutions that address the main causes of fatal traffic accidents at work - vehicle blind spots, unsafe driving practices, and driver fatigue.

Companies and research institutions will receive up to 70 per cent funding to devise such solutions, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a statement yesterday.

Traffic accidents were the top cause of workplace fatalities between 2013 and last year, claiming 82 lives. More than half, or 57 per cent, of the accidents happened in worksites while the rest occurred on public roads.

The ministry is calling for proposals from today, for submission in November. The winning projects will be announced in March next year.

The fund is part of a broader plan announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday to encourage companies to make workplaces safer through technology.

 

"Technology can help to reduce human errors which cause workplace accidents," said Mr Lee.

TECH SOLUTIONS

If the driver is falling asleep, an alert will be triggered, the seat will vibrate and the driver hopefully will wake up... Using technology to improve all aspects of our lives, including workplace safety and health, is part of our plans to become a Smart Nation.

PM LEE

  • 82 Number of lives lost through traffic accidents, the top cause of workplace fatalities, between 2013 and last year.

He noted that some transport and logistics companies have already installed devices to monitor driving habits.

"If the driver is falling asleep, an alert will be triggered, the seat will vibrate and the driver hopefully will wake up," he said.

At his National Day Rally two weeks ago, the Prime Minister had outlined how Singapore's Smart Nation plan will create jobs and improve daily living.

Yesterday, he said using technology to improve workplace safety and health is part of the national plan to become a Smart Nation.

Besides promoting the use of technology to improve workplace safety and health, the MOM is also reaching out to smaller companies that may lack resources to roll out workplace safety programmes.

It will set up a Total Workplace Safety and Health Service Centre in Woodlands by the end of this month, to give advice to smaller firms and help them implement programmes to boost safety at work.

The pilot centre, which will run for two years, will help about 300 companies employing 3,000 workers in the Woodlands East Industrial Estate. It will provide free services like consultations and talks.

The 300 companies are mainly in the metal works, food manufacturing and construction sectors, the MOM said.

"If this approach works well, we will set up more of these centres in other industrial areas in Singapore," said Mr Lee at the official opening of the 21st World Congress on Safety and Health at Work yesterday.

The congress was jointly opened by Mr Lee, International Labour Organisation (ILO) director-general Guy Ryder and International Social Security Association (ISSA) president Joachim Breuer.

In their speeches delivered before Mr Lee's, Mr Ryder and Dr Breuer spoke about the vision of reducing workplace fatalities and injuries to zero worldwide.

About 3,500 delegates from more than 100 countries are in Singapore until Wednesday for the congress, which is held every three years. It is the first time the congress is held in South-east Asia.

Besides meetings and workshops, the congress also has activities such as a safety and health exhibition, and a short film competition on preventing workplace deaths and injuries.

The competition has drawn eight Singapore entries - seven films and a multimedia presentation. Some are expected to win awards when the winners are announced today.

The Asean labour ministers also met to discuss workplace safety on the sidelines of the congress yesterday. They later issued a joint statement pledging their commitment to improve workplace safety for workers in the region.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2017, with the headline '$2m fund to tackle traffic fatalities at work'. Print Edition | Subscribe