Singapore

Manpower Minister warns: Workplace deaths rising

Nine in 10 workplace deaths in construction occur because workers adopt wrong or unsafe behaviour, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say.

These include taking shortcuts such as not wearing harnesses or other protective gear.

Speaking at the two-day Singapore Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Conference yesterday, he said workplace fatality rate is on the rise again, The Straits Times Online reported.

So far this year, 48 lives have been lost.

Mr Lim noted that although Singapore managed to bring down the fatality rate from 2.8 out of 100,000 in 2008 to 1.8 in 2014, this success was not sustained.

He warned that the rate may hit 2.2 this year.

Citing an analysis by the WSH Institute on the 33 construction deaths between June last year and this May, he said seven in 10 were due to poor planning or execution of work activities.

The study also showed that 87 per cent of the companies involved had failed to carry out thorough risk assessment or put in place proper risk control measures.

Said Mr Lim: "Some companies have also accepted WSH infringements as unavoidable. They set aside 'safety budgets' to cover the enforcement fines."

Another factor, he said, was workers' health.

In the last three years, a third of work fatalities involved workers with existing medical conditions such as heart disease and hypertension that were aggravated by work, resulting in accidents.

He also stressed the growing need to redesign jobs for elderly workers, observing that 18 per cent of the accidents in the first half of this year involved workers aged 55 and older.

He called for a more "progressive and pervasive culture" to be inculcated in WSH here.

Workplace AccidentSingaporeLim Swee Say