3 workplace fatalities recorded in start of 2020, MOM conducts 230 inspections as part of enforcement blitz

Workers were seen at worksites where no means of access were provided. PHOTO: SINGAPORE MINISTRY OF MANPOWER/ FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Sunday (Jan 19) urged companies to ensure they have measures in place to keep their workers safe, noting that there have been three workplace deaths since the start of the year.

With the Chinese New Year festive period approaching, some firms may be ramping up work activities to meet deadlines, it said in a Facebook post.

"MOM reminds all companies of the need to review work practices and ensure that the necessary safeguards are in place," it said.

The ministry said the three workplace deaths recorded since Jan 1 "(do) not augur well for workplace safety and health".

There were at least 12 fatal workplace accidents in the last two months of 2019.

To stem the spate of fatal accidents, the ministry said it launched a two-month enforcement blitz in the middle of last month, and has conducted about 230 inspections to date out of a planned 400.

The first workplace fatality this year occurred when a worker was crushed by a toppled pallet of gas cylinders, while the second death happened after a worker was hit by a runner which fell from a formwork structure.

On Jan 9, The Straits Times reported that a 40-year-old man died after falling off a supply ship en route to Singapore from the waters off the coast of Desaru, Malaysia.

The man fell into the sea during a lifting operation the day after New Year's Day and was pronounced dead by a Singapore Civil Defence Force paramedic upon the vessel's return to Singapore.

In its post, the MOM said four workplaces had been issued with stop-work orders for hazards which posed a danger to workers.

The orders will be lifted only after the firms rectify lapses and improve their workplace safety and health management systems, MOM said.

"We will sustain the momentum of our enforcement operation, taking a tough stance against those who put workers at risk," the ministry said.

The latest Singapore Workplace Safety and Health report which was released in the third quarter of last year said there were eight fatal injuries between July and September 2019. A similar figure was recorded for the second quarter while nine deaths occurred between January and March last year.

The report noted that although there was a lower fatal injury rate in the second and third quarters of 2019 compared with the first quarter, the rate of minor injuries continued to rise in the same period.

Manufacturing, construction and transportation and storage were identified as the three industries with the most workplace injuries.

Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad expressed concern over the rising number of workplace deaths in a Facebook post on Dec 13.

In his post, Mr Zaqy said there was an increase in fatalities among smaller projects in the construction industry and added that MOM would ramp up enforcement efforts to mitigate risks to workers.

An annual report which covers all workplace fatalities, major and minor injuries in 2019, including statistics for the final quarter of last year, will be released early this year.

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