Report close shaves to reduce workplace injuries: Zaqy

(From left) WSH Council chairman John Ng, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad and SAESL CEO Bill Wozniak holding up workplace safety reminder stickers.
(From left) WSH Council chairman John Ng, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad and SAESL CEO Bill Wozniak holding up workplace safety reminder stickers.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Such accounts will plug gaps in safety procedures, he says

Companies need to report near misses at the workplace and encourage workers to highlight hazards, in order to reduce the number of injuries resulting from industrial accidents.

Speaking at the launch of Safe Hands Campaign 2019 yesterday, Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad said such near-miss reports will plug gaps in existing safety procedures.

The campaign, an initiative by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council, focuses on the prevention of machinery-related hand and finger injuries in the workplace.

Mr Zaqy said for a near-miss reporting programme to be successful, a blame-free environment is critical.

"Workers should be encouraged to proactively flag out hazards without fear of reprisal," he added.

Besides reporting near misses, he said, companies should also enforce appropriate control measures.

These include machine guards to protect workers from pinch points and moving machine blades, and devices that shut off electricity to potentially dangerous machines prior to repair and maintenance works.

 
 

While the number of hand and finger amputation cases in the workplace decreased from 140 in 2016 to 103 last year, Mr Zaqy said all of the injuries last year were preventable.

He added: "Inspections conducted by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) last year revealed that all of the amputation injuries could have been prevented by measures such as conducting better risk assessments, installing machine guards, and providing lock-out and tag-out procedures during maintenance and repair."

A near-miss reporting regime introduced in 2012 saw Singapore Aero Engine Services (SAESL), a company which works on Rolls-Royce Trent aeroplane engines, reduce its accident rate by 65 per cent over the past three years.

Of the 1,342 employees at SAESL, 878 work with heavy machinery.

Mr Zaqy was yesterday given a tour of the company's facility in Loyang, where he was shown the equipment used to prevent machinery-related injuries.

Among other things, SAESL introduced safety cutters with ceramic blades, which are less hazardous than the ones with metal blades, and a braking system that allows machinery to stop within one or two revolutions in emergencies.

Mr Bill Wozniak, the company's chief executive, said: "At SAESL, we say that safety has no budget limit. If something needs to be done, we will make sure that it's funded and properly given."

This year's Safe Hands Campaign is focusing on the metalworking sector, which has more than 5,000 companies.

The sector accounts for one of the highest number of amputation injuries within the manufacturing industry.

There were 125 cases involving all forms of amputation injuries in 2017 across all industries and 143 the year before, MOM figures showed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2019, with the headline 'Report close shaves to reduce workplace injuries: Zaqy'. Print Edition | Subscribe