MOM to carry out 400 worksite safety inspections on top of routine checks amid spate of accidents

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad (second from right) during a site inspection visit to Esun International on April 19, 2021.
Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad (second from right) during a site inspection visit to Esun International on April 19, 2021.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - From May to June, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will carry out 400 worksite safety inspections targeting high-risk sectors including construction and manufacturing.

Called Operation Ibis, these inspections will be on top of routine checks.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said on Monday (April 19) his ministry is paying closer attention to the manufacturing sector as it had seen six fatalities last year, compared with four in 2019.

It also had the highest number of non-fatal injuries last year - 110 cases of major injuries and more than 2,300 cases of minor injuries.

Machinery incidents, which made up about 30 per cent of all injuries in the sector, are a particular area of concern, Mr Zaqy added.

Noting that there were 48 cases of amputations and loss of limbs or partial limbs, he said: "This is too high. Each limb that's lost is a rice bowl being impacted or hurt.

"So we must give a lot more focus on the manufacturing sector and how we can improve safety."

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a site inspection visit on Monday to Esun International, a waste-metal recycling centre in Jurong.

The company was issued a stop-work order after the inspection uncovered various safety issues, such as poor traffic management and poor machinery maintenance.

There was also an issue of "open sides", meaning there were shelves with no safety guards in place. Objects had also been stacked on such shelves, with a risk of them falling off.

The company was selected for inspection based on MOM's risk profiling on the industry and nature of work, and had not been informed of the spot check.

Mr Zaqy said that besides enforcement, MOM is also looking at encouraging companies to make sure their workers are better trained.

The Workplace Safety and Health Council has come up with new material for companies in terms of training and raising awareness of how to operate machinery safely, he added.

He cited two fatalities in February this year involving a boom operator and forklift operator who were both unqualified to operate such machinery.

"(These cases) are reminders of why safety is important, and why we must safeguard our workers," Mr Zaqy said.