Workplace fatalities fall to lowest since 2006

Singapore's workplace fatal injury rate has gone down over the years, from 4.9 per 100,000 workers in 2004 to 1.2 per 100,000 in the past two years. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Singapore's workplace fatal injury rate has gone down over the years, from 4.9 per 100,000 workers in 2004 to 1.2 per 100,000 in the past two years. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

17 workers died in such accidents in first half of 2019, down from 18 in same period in 2018

Seventeen workers died from workplace accidents in the first half of this year, the fewest since 2006, when the National Workplace Safety and Health numbers were first made available to the public.

This is an improvement from last year, which saw 18 cases in the same period, out of a total of 41 for the whole year.

Singapore's workplace fatal injury rate has gone down over the years, from 4.9 per 100,000 workers in 2004 to 1.2 per 100,000 in the past two years. The Tripartite Strategies Committee's 2028 goal is to reduce Singapore's workplace fatal injury rate to less than 1.0 per 100,000 by that time.

Companies must continue to be diligent as the construction sector expects a slew of mega projects, which in turn, means bringing in more workers, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo at the Workplace Safety and Health Awards at the Resorts World Convention Centre yesterday.

"Building a strong safety culture takes time," said Mrs Teo. "Our workplace safety and health improvement was made possible only because our tripartite partners were driven to enhance the livelihood and working conditions of our workers."

Companies should dedicate more resources to new and inexperienced workers who face a higher risk of injuries, to help them adapt to their work environments, she added. Employers should also stay diligent, as "workers who are assured of their employers' commitment to take care of their safety and health will be motivated to give their best at work".

Mrs Teo's speech highlighted several of the 168 award recipients, out of a total of 344 applicants, who had enhanced workplace safety and health.


Award recipients at the Workplace Safety and Health Awards on July 30, 2019. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

One of them was Kuan Aik Hong Construction, a 20-year-old company that has chalked up 1.5 million man-hours (four years) without an accident. It received a Performance Award (Silver), its second to date.

To encourage workers to flag hazards, supermarket vouchers are presented monthly to those who report significant hazards.

Mrs Teo raised the example of Mr Uddin Nizam, 31, a site supervisor with the firm, as someone who is "never afraid to report near misses for the safety of his co-workers".

Last year, Mr Nizam found steel plates laid on soft ground - after it had rained overnight - covering an access ramp to an underground detention tank in an excavation site.

 
 
 
 

"Just as Nizam saw an excavator entering the excavation site, he quickly stopped all works and gathered the safety officers and site engineer to collectively review the site conditions," said Mrs Teo.

The team then removed the steel plates and added reinforcements to the ramp to provide more grip for the excavator.

"This shows how the no-blame culture at Kuan Aik Hong Construction encourages workers to stay vigilant and speak out on near misses," Mrs Teo added.

Technology has immense potential to transform businesses and make work processes leaner and safer, said Mrs Teo, citing Keppel Fels, a wholly owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore and Marine, as an example.

Keppel Fels received an Innovation Award for using a smart unmanned inspection robot to eliminate the risks of having a person work in a small, confined underground space to inspect the conditions of bus-bars, which if corroded, can adversely affect crane operations.

This technology has also reduced the number of man-hours required to prepare and execute the inspection process from 303 hours to 13 hours, and only two men are needed instead of eight.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'Workplace fatalities fall to lowest since 2006'. Print Edition | Subscribe