Most recent workplace deaths in S'pore were experienced workers: Tan See Leng

A safety reminder at Kim Chuan Depot in 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Most workers who died at the workplace in the last few months were experienced staff.

"One would have intuitively thought it's because of new workers, young, inexperienced workers coming in to fill up these jobs, that is contributing to the spate of accidents," said Dr Tan See Leng, Minister of Manpower, in a video interview with The Straits Times on Friday (July 29).

"However, we find that actually, many of the accidents, the fatalities, actually involve people who are very experienced.

"That, in itself, tells you that it is not a function of the training or the level of experience."

He added: "I think some of the factors could be the fact that people are ramping up (work)... They're trying to catch up for lost time."

Dr Tan, who is also Second Minister for Trade and Industry, said that monitoring in work sites has been stepped up in response to the spate of accidents.

"We are also looking at and reviewing the entire framework of monitoring, and some of the ideas that we have mooted include doing a very comprehensive pre-start worksite assessment of where some of the danger areas are."

Other ideas include a framework to take employers and supervisors to task with suspension and demerit points, and even real-time surveillance at very high-risk work sites to aid learning from potential safety lapses and near-misses.

Dr Tan's comments come after the 31st work-related death this year, which was announced on Wednesday by Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council chairman John Ng during a speech at the annual WSH Awards, which was held at Resorts World Sentosa.

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A 55-year-old trainer, employed by consultancy services and training firm Citadelle, died on July 20 after falling off a boat at the Police Coast Guard's headquarters in Pulau Brani and was struck by the propeller of the boat's motor.

In a signal of grave concern over the death toll, Radin Mas MP Melvin Yong will speak on workplace safety for up to 20 minutes in an adjournment motion at the end of next Monday's parliamentary sitting, with Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad set to reply.

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