Worker dies after falling 9.5m to factory floor; 2022 fatalities now at 24

The total number of workplace fatalities this year is now the highest for the same period since 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A 49-year-old local worker died after falling 9.5m through a skylight to the factory floor while preparing to do roof cleaning work.

The freelance labourer contracted by oil and gas inspection, repair and maintenance company Vina Specialist died in Ng Teng Fong General Hospital shortly after he was taken there, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in response to The Straits Times' queries.

His death on May 19 brings the total number of workplace fatalities this year to 24, the highest number in the same period since 2016, as a manpower shortage and the rush to finish projects continue to push up an unwelcome statistic that had been falling before the Covid-19 pandemic.

MOM said the worker's employer, Vina Specialist, is also the occupier of the unit at 36 Joo Koon Circle, where the incident happened at 8.40am.

It is investigating the accident and has instructed Vina Specialist to stop all work activities that require workers to be elevated.

"As a general safety measure, every means by which a worker may fall from height should be identified and guarded or covered. In addition, workers should be equipped with safety equipment to prevent falls," the ministry added in its statement to ST.

Separately, another workplace accident occurred on Thursday (May 26) at 190 Orchard Boulevard, a building occupied by Kajima Overseas Asia that was undergoing works.

A formwork component for a lift shaft was dislodged on the 29th floor when it was being worked on at 9am and hit a Bangladeshi worker on the 14th floor.

The 31-year-old worker, who is employed by Xiang Tai Construction, is now in Tan Tock Seng Hospital being treated for a back injury.

MOM said incompatible works carried out by different groups of workers within the same area should be properly scheduled.

There should also be safe work procedures in place to prevent dismantled objects from falling, it added.

Observers including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have come forward to say that the recent spate of workplace fatalities is unacceptable, and have urged a safety time-out, which would put a stop to all work for companies to review risk assessments and familiarise workers with safety procedures.

More than 12,000 companies had called a time-out by mid-May, after 10 workers died in April alone.

The industry has a long-term goal of reducing workplace fatalities to a rate below one per 100,000 workers by 2028.

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