MOM to carry out 300 more checks in high-risk workplaces

Following a spate of deadly workplace accidents this month, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is adding 300 inspections in high-risk industries.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, MOM said the inspections will continue until mid-March, adding that there will be "a greater focus on tackling the common infringements found of work-at-heights risk and safe use of machinery" in the construction, manufacturing and marine sectors.

The announcement came on the same day as an explosion at an industrial site in Tuas, which resulted in 10 workers taken to hos-pital for burn injuries. Three of them have since died.

Of the other seven deaths this month, three fell from height, three were caught between objects and one was involved in a work-related traffic accident.

MOM had, between mid-December and this month, launched Operation Robin with 400 inspections at various sites. The team uncovered 486 contraventions and issued seven stop-work orders (SWOs).

In one case, MOM issued an SWO to Kian Hua Hardware after contraventions, including ignition keys being left in forklifts and unsafe electrical installations, were uncovered. Another SWO was issued to waste management and construction firm Mass Engineering for practices such as poorly maintained excavators and unsafe stockpiling of debris.

MOM said top offences found during Operation Robin were unguarded openings and open sides that pose fall risks as well as unsafe machinery practices. In two of the fatal accidents this month, workers had operated a boom lift and a forklift, even though they were untrained and unauthorised.

"MOM takes such contraventions seriously and will not hesitate to take a tough enforcement stance against those who put workers at risk," it added.

The Singapore Contractors Association and Workplace Safety and Health Council had on Monday issued a call for a safety time-out on the use of machinery in the light of the recent incidents.

In a Facebook post the same day, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said that 30 fatalities were recorded for the whole of last year and seven for this month alone.

"This is extremely alarming... These incidents could have been prevented with adequate risk assessment of the workplace, and proper safety procedures in place," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2021, with the headline 'MOM to carry out 300 more checks in high-risk workplaces'. Subscribe