Slips, trips and falls make up nearly 30% of injuries at work

Regent Singapore's executive chef Angelo Ciccone demonstrating the use of metal safety gloves while handling a slicer at the Basilico restaurant in the hotel yesterday. The gloves are one of the many safety measures in place in the hotel's kitchens.
Regent Singapore's executive chef Angelo Ciccone demonstrating the use of metal safety gloves while handling a slicer at the Basilico restaurant in the hotel yesterday. The gloves are one of the many safety measures in place in the hotel's kitchens.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Almost half of injuries in hospitality and entertainment sector took place in kitchen

Almost 30 per cent of workplace injuries here over the past four years have been the result of slips, trips and falls (STF), with more than 3,000 employees affected annually during that period.

The first six months of this year also saw 1,844 STF-related injuries, up around 6 per cent from 1,744 cases in the same period last year.

The statistics were revealed by Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad at a forum on workplace safety in kitchens yesterday.

Nearly half of such injuries in the hospitality and entertainment sector happened in the kitchen, and 80 per cent of these occurred during peak periods.

In one such incident in January, a worker slipped in a kitchen and accidentally grabbed a pot of scalding hot oil as she fell. She suffered 80 per cent burns to her body as a result and died of her injuries.

Mr Zaqy said that in response to the increase in STF cases, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) mounted an operation in June and last month to conduct 500 inspections in sectors where such incidents are common, including the construction, manufacturing and food services sectors.


Non-slip mats being used in the main kitchen of the Regent Singapore hotel on Aug 26. Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad commended the hotel for its safety practices during his speech at the Workplace Safety and Health Forum on Kitchen Safety. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

This resulted in 876 enforcement actions against 439 companies, including four stop-work orders and 144 composition fines totalling $164,000. The top contraventions discovered during the operation included poor housekeeping that could lead to tripping hazards; wet, slippery or damaged floors; and the failure to implement control measures to prevent STF.

Mr Zaqy said the Singapore Hotel Association will work closely with the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council - an organisation set up by the MOM, the labour movement and the Singapore National Employers Federation - to hold a safety week to discuss and share with its members safety best practices in the kitchens.

He listed three such practices.

First, companies should maintain good housekeeping in the kitchen, including ensuring that the floors are clean and dry, pathways are cleared of unnecessary items and products are properly stored and labelled to facilitate quick retrieval.

Second, employers should implement control measures to mitigate risks of STF.


An employee (left) using a metal guard installed on a dough mixer while another exhibits safe knife skills in the pastry kitchen of the Regent Singapore hotel on Aug 26. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Regent Singapore, for instance, installed anti-slip flooring and mats in its kitchens, and put up signs to warn workers of hazards such as wet and slippery floors. The hotel also puts up notices on workplace accidents and encourages workers to report unsafe conditions.

Finally, said Mr Zaqy, employees should take ownership of their personal and co-workers' safety. He noted how Mandarin Oriental hotel launched a campaign to encourage workers to look out for one another's safety. The move cut the number of STF cases significantly.

 
 
 
 

Companies can also tap the WSH Council's resources to raise awareness about kitchen safety among workers.

Regent Singapore's executive chief steward and hygiene manager, Mr Derek Wong, who has been working for the hotel for 20 years, said the WSH Council's safety programme has helped reduce the number of accidents.

He said: "In the past, there was no guidance to assess hazards in the kitchen. People would respond only after an accident happened. The programme is a really good preventative measure."

Mr Zaqy said the council's Hospitality and Entertainment Industries Committee has collaborated with social media companies to produce educational videos and an article on the types of injuries and hazards faced by kitchen staff.

In addition, the committee will work with different associations and industry partners to come up with plans to improve kitchen safety over the next few years.

Mr Zaqy said: "Kitchen safety is often overlooked. Accidents can happen in a split second when one is not careful or when one takes a shortcut... Let's all work together to provide safe and healthy workplaces for our workers."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2019, with the headline 'Slips, trips and falls make up nearly 30% of injuries at work'. Print Edition | Subscribe