7 deaths from workplace accidents in February, prompting call for 'safety time-out'

The Ministry of Manpower will continue to step up enforcement with a greater focus work-at-heights and safe use of machinery. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - There have been seven deaths from workplace accidents this month alone, in what Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad has called an "extremely alarming" trend.

Of the seven fatalities, the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council said three workers fell from height, three were caught between objects and one was involved in a work-related traffic accident.

In the light of these incidents, the Singapore Contractors Association and WSH Council have issued a call for a safety time-out (STO) on use of machinery.

In a Facebook post on Monday evening (Feb 22), Mr Zaqy said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will continue to step up enforcement with a greater focus work-at-heights and safe use of machinery, targeting the construction, manufacturing and marine industries sectors in the coming months.

The Straits Times reported last Friday (Feb 19) that four of the deaths happened in the first 10 days of this month.

Mr Zaqy noted that in contrast, there were 30 deaths for the whole of last year.

"This is extremely alarming, setting a worrying trend for the year ahead," he said.

"These incidents could have been prevented with adequate risk assessment of the workplace, and proper safety procedures in place."

He also noted that in two of the fatal accidents, workers had operated a boom lift and a forklift, even though they were untrained and unauthorised.

"I urge employers and employees to take a step back and reassess their workplaces and safety procedures. These steps are crucial to ensure that our workers return home safely and healthily," said Mr Zaqy.

Mr John Ng, chairman of the WSH Council, also said the accidents could have been prevented.

"I am gravely concerned with this spate of seven fatal workplace accidents that is unprecedented and the absolute unnecessary loss of lives," he said.

"I call on all employers to do an STO especially on the use of machinery, to assess and review existing safety provisions and implement immediate necessary measures to uphold good safety practices."

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