Accident learning reports: Employers to be consulted

The scene of an industrial accident at a construction site in Minto Road in February last year. The new rules, which require stakeholders to be consulted on the draft learning report, formalise the learning report framework and incorporate feedback f
The scene of an industrial accident at a construction site in Minto Road in February last year. The new rules, which require stakeholders to be consulted on the draft learning report, formalise the learning report framework and incorporate feedback from employers who have expressed concerns about their identities or proprietary information being revealed.ST FILE PHOTO

MOM sharing recommendations before conclusion of criminal proceedings

Parties directly involved in a major industrial accident, including the owner of the location where the accident took place, will be consulted by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) when the ministry prepares its incident learning report.

Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad announced yesterday that new regulations have been gazetted to require such stakeholders to be consulted on the draft learning report.

Since last year, MOM has been able to share recommendations and learning points from accidents before the conclusion of criminal proceedings, so that steps can be taken quickly to prevent further incidents.

The new rules formalise the learning report framework and incorporate feedback from employers who have expressed concerns about their identities or proprietary information being revealed.

MOM will work with employers to identify proprietary information to exclude from the report, said a ministry spokesman.

However, the ministry may include certain information, such as the chemical component found in a mixture that substantively contributed to an accident, she said.

She added that the first report is expected to be issued by this year.

Speaking to more than 300 local and international delegates at this year's Global Summit on Process Safety, Mr Zaqy said the introduction of learning reports is part of Singapore's Workplace Safety and Health 2028 strategies, which were announced in April.

One strategy is to deepen companies' ownership of workplace safety, while another is to enhance the focus on workplace health, he added at the event at Resorts World Convention Centre, which was co-hosted by the Singapore Chemical Industry Council and the Centre for Chemical Process Safety of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

A third strategy is to tap technology. Some plant owners are already using wireless sensors to monitor confined-space work in real time to reduce risks to workers, while some are using analytics to predict and identify abnormal incidents, said Mr Zaqy.

He announced that for companies with effective risk-based inspection or similar programmes to monitor the structural integrity of pressurised equipment, MOM will extend the inspection interval for direct-fired steam boilers from two years to up to five years.

This is among the enhancements MOM is making to the Statutory Pressure Vessel Extension Scheme. It allows plant owners to exercise more flexibility in managing the downtime of their equipment, said Mr Zaqy.

"We will continue to engage the (energy and chemicals) industry and identify areas where we can readily offer support to promote the culture of risk prevention while meeting business needs," he added.

The industry accounted for 28.5 per cent of Singapore's $342 billion manufacturing output and employed more than 25,000 workers last year.

Mr Zaqy noted that although the industry fared better than the national average in terms of its major injury rate, the rate last year was 14.8 major injuries per 100,000 workers, up from 8.2 per 100,000 workers in 2017.

"We should take this rise... as a wake-up call and aim to do better," he said. "Also, any incident involving hazardous chemicals could have dire consequences to workers, workplaces and the community. Process safety is therefore of utmost importance."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2019, with the headline 'Accident learning reports: Employers to be consulted'. Print Edition | Subscribe