Every three days, the hand or finger of a worker is amputated because of an accident at work, a trend the authorities hope to reverse with a campaign.
These hand-related amputations form 94 per cent of the 125 amputation cases reported last year, said Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan yesterday when he launched a Safe Hands campaign.
Mr Tan also said that since 2012, the number of cases involving amputation of limbs injured at work averages between 10 and 12 a month.
These injuries, he said, "affect the livelihoods of workers whose jobs rely on operating machinery or handling materials".
Investigations show that "55 per cent of the amputation injuries were due to inadequate safety provisions at the workplace, such as the lack of proper machine guarding and risk management", he added at the campaign launch at the Sats Inflight Catering Centre.
Other causes he cited include poor machine maintenance, unauthorised operation of machinery and inadequate training of workers who operate the machine.
The campaign to raise awareness of hand and finger injuries that could result in amputations was launched by the Workplace Safety and Health Council.
MOM officials visited more than 400 workplaces in manufacturing and construction, and took more than 1,000 enforcement actions... Machinery-related issues were most common, numbering about 200.
It is the third and final phase of a national workplace safety and health campaign. The earlier two focused on falls and vehicle accidents.
Mr Tan noted the campaign follows a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) enforcement operation between September and November last year that targeted machinery safety and other amputation hazards.
MOM officials visited more than 400 workplaces in manufacturing and construction, and took more than 1,000 enforcement actions, he said. Machinery-related issues were most common, numbering about 200.
To address them, he said managers must walk the ground to recognise, identify, manage and control amputation hazards caused by mechanical components of machines, safety risks workers face when the machines are in operation, or unsafe activities they perform.
"Once management shows its attention, support and commitment to safety, every employee will take notice," Mr Tan said.
"They will then pay the same attention and comply with the safety practices required at the workplace where machines are used."
Mr Tan also urged companies to make use of MOM's Job Redesign Grant, which gives companies up to $300,000 to help them use technology to improve safety standards and production efficiency.