Two workers die in separate workplace incidents this week; NTUC responds

NTUC urged companies to prioritise and safeguard the safety of workers.
NTUC urged companies to prioritise and safeguard the safety of workers.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Two workers died in workplace accidents this week, prompting labour movement NTUC to urge companies to prioritise and safeguard the safety of workers, and not put their lives at risk by rushing to catch up on work.

In a Facebook post on Friday (Nov 4), NTUC assistant secretary-general Melvin Yong said there were five workplace fatalities over the last two weeks.

He added that to date, the number of workplace fatalities this year is more than two-thirds of the total in 2019, when 39 lives were lost.

"This is against the backdrop of Covid-19 restrictions, where there was a drastic drop in the level of business activities," he noted.

Expressing concern and alarm by the sharp increase, Mr Yong said the figures serve as a critical and grim reminder to guard against fatigue or even complacency as Singapore continues to move towards phase three of its reopening.

He said he was glad that the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council and the Singapore Contractors Association called on construction firms to conduct a safety time-out last week.

The WSH Council provided details of the latest incidents in an update on Friday.

The first accident happened on Dec 1, when a worker packing goods in a warehouse fell from a height and succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.

The next day, a worker repairing a machine died after one of its parts fell on him. He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

The Ministry of Manpower has commenced investigations into both incidents, said the WSH Council on its website.

In his post, Mr Yong called for trained WSH representatives in every organisation.

These representatives could also ensure that the implementation of safe management measures at the workplace to stem the spread of Covid-19 does not compromise workplace safety.

He said companies should also consider implementing a structured re-orientation programme for workers returning to the workplace after a prolonged period away.

This especially for high-risk sectors such as manufacturing, construction, transportation and storage.

Employers should also consider conducting refresher WSH courses so that safety remains at the top of everyone's minds, he added.

Said Mr Yong: "At the end of the day, workplace safety is everyone's responsibility. Each of us must play our part as we strive towards a safer and healthier workplace for all."