SINGAPORE - Employers should not ignore workers' safety even as they adjust work arrangements amid the evolving Covid-19 situation, Minister of State for National Development Zaqy Mohamad has said.
Six workers have died in separate workplace accidents since mid-February, four of whom lost their lives while performing high-risk operations. One worker was crushed by a scrap metal machine, another was pinned under a 6m cargo container, a third was hit by a suspended rudder and the fourth was struck by a component of an engineering assembly while operating a hydraulic press machine.
In the other two cases, one died after he fell off a ladder and a food delivery driver was killed in a traffic accident, Mr Zaqy said in postings on his Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
"These accidents could have been prevented if there was clear communication between workers and if safe work procedures were adhered to," he wrote.
"Companies and workers must proactively address and eliminate the risks posed by workplace hazards. Where it is not possible to eliminate the risk, companies need to ensure their engineering and administrative control measures such as safe work procedures and communication between workers are effectively implemented," he added.
In the most recent fatality, a 30-year-old worker from transport operator SMRT died on Monday morning (March 23) at Bishan Depot.
Technical officer Muhammad Afiq Senawi suffered severe injuries while working on a hydraulic press machine in the Rolling Stock workshop at Bishan Depot.
SMRT is assisting the Land Transport Authority, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the police with investigations.
Mr Zaqy said the MOM will continue to conduct inspections at workplaces to ensure that safety and health measures are not being neglected amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
"Every worker deserves to be treated and protected fairly at the workplace," he wrote.
The spike in workplace deaths early this year comes on the heels of record low workplace fatalities in 2019.
Data released by the MOM on March 11 showed that deaths at the workplace fell to 39 in 2019, or 1.1 per 100,000 workers. This is the lowest rate of fatality since 2004, when records were first compiled. In 2018, there were 41 deaths.
However, the improvement was blunted by a rise in major and minor non-fatal injuries, which were mostly caused by slips, trips and falls.
Non-fatal major injuries increased by 5 per cent in 2019 to 629 cases. Major injuries usually involve the loss of a body part or function, and includes amputation, fractures, blindness or conditions that require medical leave of more than 20 days.
Minor injuries, which involves conditions requiring medical leave of four days or more, rose by 8 per cent to 13,111 cases last year.