Vehicle-related accidents still a concern despite dip in workplace fatalities: Zaqy

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad (right) speaking to prime mover operators at the Pasir Panjang Terminal. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - The average number of workplace deaths each month has dipped since the Ministry of Manpower introduced a six-month heightened safety period on Sept 1 – from about 4½ deaths a month to two.

But all four fatalities that occurred from Sept 1 till Friday were caused by vehicle-related incidents, which Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad on Friday described as worrying, especially since 15 of the 40 workplace deaths in 2022 involved vehicles.

His comments came on the sidelines of a showcase of vehicular safety tools and best practices organised by the Workplace Safety and Health Council and port operator PSA Corporation, with support from logistics firm Geodis.

Held at the Pasir Panjang Terminal, the showcase saw over 30 representatives from different logistics firms learning about vehicular technologies that some firms have adopted to better ensure workers’ safety.

One of them was a sensor system implemented by Geodis in its forklifts. The sensor alerts forklift operators to the presence of people in their blind spots, with an LED light in the vehicle lighting up when it detects someone within the vehicle’s perimeter.

The system costs about $500, making it a highly attractive acquisition, said Bok Seng Logistics’ group chief executive Dave Ng. “A lot of firm owners are cost-conscious and may not want to adopt such technologies because they expect them to be highly expensive,” he said. “But in terms of safety, these things are a good investment because... workers feel more appreciated.”

Also on display was an anti-drowsiness device that PSA Corporation installs in its prime movers. It is able to detect if a driver closes his eyes for a few seconds and emits a loud noise to wake him up. At the same time, a notification is sent to a control room for staff to follow up with him.

These technologies, which are already available, would help firms understand the safety culture at their workplace through the use of analytics, noted Mr Zaqy, who added that the showcase would not be a one-off event.

He said of workplace fatalities: “I’m quite heartened to see the momentum of fatalities come down, and I hope that we can maintain and improve on it in the coming months.”

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