Workplace safety to be discussed in Parliament after 31st worker death this year

Singapore recorded its 31st workplace death last week, exceeding the 30 workplace deaths recorded in the whole of 2020. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - The issue of workplace safety will be discussed in Parliament next week after 31 work-related deaths were reported in the first seven months of the year.

Radin Mas MP Melvin Yong will speak for up to 20 minutes on the topic next Monday (Aug 1), signalling that the matter continues to be of grave concern.

Despite repeated calls for worker safety to be taken seriously, the number of workplace deaths has continued to rise.

In a Facebook post on Thursday (July 28), the National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general said the issue of workplace safety needs to be addressed urgently to prevent more accidents from occurring.

That is why he will deliver an adjournment motion at the end of Monday's parliamentary sitting, Mr Yong wrote.

Only one MP is allowed to deliver an adjournment motion at the end of each sitting, and Mr Yong's was selected after a ballot. The minister responsible for the selected topic may reply for up to 10 minutes after Mr Yong speaks.

This is likely to be Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad.

"I would like to remind once again that workplace safety and health (WSH) is a collective responsibility of both employers and workers," Mr Yong said.

"One life lost is one too many."

Mr Yong's motion comes after Singapore recorded its 31st workplace death last week, exceeding the 30 workplace deaths recorded in the whole of 2020 and just shy of the 37 workplace deaths recorded in the whole of last year.

The latest fatality is a 55-year-old Singaporean, who died on July 20 after he fell off a boat at the Police Coast Guard's headquarters on Pulau Brani and was struck by the propeller of the boat's motor.

The trainer was alone on the boat at the time of the accident.

In his post, Mr Yong reminded workers and companies in the maritime and offshore-related sector to conduct risk assessments before work starts, and to make alternative plans for inclement weather.

He also urged those in the industry to conduct regular man-overboard drills, deploy two-men teams and have a back-up team on shore to provide support.

Life vests should be worn for all operations near or in water, and checks need to be done to ensure emergency equipment are fully functional.

"When met with unexpected sea conditions, reduce the movement speed of the craft as impact with strong waves can increase the likelihood of overturning. Ensure that safety features such as an engine kill switch is installed on the craft to prevent any accidental contact with exposed moving parts," Mr Yong said.

He added: "Let's work closely together to enhance WSH practices so that every worker can return home safely to their loved ones at the end of each workday."

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