New campaign to keep hands and fingers safe in workplace

Every three days, the hand or finger of a worker is amputated because of an accident at work, a trend the authorities hope to change.

These hand-related amputations form 94 per cent of the 125 amputation cases last year, said Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan yesterday when he launched a Safe Hands campaign.

Mr Tan also said that since 2012, the number of cases involving amputation of limbs injured at work averages between 10 and 12 a month.

Investigations show that "55 per cent of the amputation injuries were due to inadequate safety provisions at the workplace, such as the lack of proper machine guarding and risk management", Mr Tan added at the campaign launch at the Sats Inflight Catering Centre.

Other causes he cited include poor machine maintenance, unauthorised operation of machinery and inadequate training of workers who operate the machine.

The campaign to raise awareness of injuries that could result in amputations was launched by the Workplace Safety and Health Council.

It is the third and final phase of a national workplace safety and health campaign. The earlier two focused on falls and vehicle accidents.

Mr Tan said the campaign follows a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) enforcement operation last year that targeted machinery safety and other amputation hazards.

MOM officials visited more than 400 workplaces and took more than 1,000 enforcement actions, he said.

Machinery-related issues were most common, numbering about 200.

He stressed the importance of managers.

"Once management shows its attention, support and commitment to safety, every employee will take notice," Mr Tan said.

He also urged companies to make use of MOM's Job Redesign Grant, which gives companies up to $300,000 to help them use technology to improve safety standards and production efficiency.