Since the start of February 2021, there have been seven fatal workplace accidents in Singapore.
This is compared to 30 fatalities for the entirety of 2020, said Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad on Monday (Feb. 22).
"Extremely alarming", sets "worrying trend"
In a Facebook post on Monday, Zaqy said that the seven accidents are "extremely alarming", and set a "worrying trend for the year ahead".
He wrote that the accidents took place across various industries, including construction, transportation, and storage and marine.
Of the seven workplace fatalities, three workers fell from height, three were caught between objects, and one was involved in a work-related traffic accident, the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council said in a Facebook post.
According to WSH alerts, here are some of the workplace fatalities that occurred in February:
- On Feb. 1, a plasterer was found unconscious and slouched against the control panel of his boom lift. He was rescued and conveyed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
- On Feb. 2, a prime mover driver was standing on some steel bars on his trailer bed assisting a forklift operator to adjust a steel bundle when he fell about 2m to the ground. He was conveyed to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
- On Feb. 10, a company director was at a private dwelling overseeing construction work when he fell through a floor opening and landed on a staircase about 4.7m below. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Accidents could be prevented with proper risk assessments
The incidents could have been prevented if there had been adequate risk assessment done of the workplace and proper safety procedures in place, said Zaqy.
In particular, he said, there were two cases where both of the deceased operated a boom lift and a forklift, even though they were untrained and unauthorised to do so.
Contractors using heavy machineries must ensure that only trained and authorised personnel are allowed to operate them, and keys to these machines should not be left unattended within the machines.
Zaqy added that the Ministry of Manpower will continue to step up enforcement in the coming months, with a greater focus on the risk of work-at-heights and safe use of machinery, specifically targeting high-risk sectors such as construction, manufacturing and marine industries.
"MOM will not hesitate to take strict enforcement actions against companies who do not have the proper measures in place to safeguard the safety and health of their employees."
In addition, action will be taken against any workers who are caught operating any machinery or equipment that they are not authorised or trained to operate.
In the case of foreign workers, such actions may include cancellation of their work passes.
As a result of the spate of accidents, the WSH Council has called for a Safety Time-out for the machinery industry.
A Safety Time-out is a move for the industry to take stock of the existing safety provisions and implement necessary measures to keep safety practices in check and uphold good WSH standards, according to the WSH.
Top photo by Roslan Rahman via Getty Images.