SINGAPORE - The number of noise-induced deafness cases in the workplace has plunged in the first half of this year, a change that will help retain workers, said some analysts.
Overall, the picture is also brightening, according to the Manpower Ministry's preliminary figures on workplace safety for the first half of 2018, released on Monday (Aug 20).
They show the number of occupational diseases - a cause of concern last year - fell to 294 from 471 in the same first half of last year.
Among the top three diseases, noise-induced deafness fell to 102, which is 94 fewer cases than in the first half of last year.
Skin diseases more than halved, declining from 50 to 21. The drop in musculoskeletal disorders, however, was less dramatic. It slipped 14 per cent, from 182 to 157 cases.
The ministry's report also shows an overall decline in workplace injuries, but the number of deaths hardly changed.
There were 20 fatalities, down from 23 in the second half of last year, but one more than in the first half of 2017.
Construction had the highest number of deaths: eight.
With injuries, however, the number fell 3 per cent to 6,032 cases from 6,211. Falls continue to be an area of concern, with seven deaths in the first half of 2018. In the same period in 2017, there were four such deaths but the number rose to eight in the second half.
The ministry and the Workplace Safety and Health Council have intensified their enforcement and engagement efforts in fall prevention, vehicle and machinery safety, and construction.
The ministry's director of policy, information and corporate services department, Mr Christopher Koh, said: "There was some progress in workplace safety and health performance for the first half, but we need to do better, especially in construction and fall prevention."
Industry experts said in the past two years, the focus has shifted from just safety to include workplace health.
Construction companies like Kori Holdings have implemented measures to tackle noise-induced deafness and heatstroke.
The use of less-noisy piling and hacking machinery has made worksitesquieter.
Said Kori's chairman and chief executive Hooi Yu Koh, 47: "Good workers stay on the longest so we need to ensure they are healthy.
"They are also ageing and we want to make sure they are fit and can do even better-quality work."
The ministry said it conducted 2,600 workplace inspections in the first six months of this year. Almost 1,500 were done in construction.
It found 5,000 workplace safety and health violations, and 40 stop-work orders were issued, each for an average of four weeks.
On-the-spot fines totalling $800,000 were slapped on 350 companies.