Workplace deaths in Singapore at a 13-year-low

This article is more than 12 months old

Fewer workers lost their lives in mishaps last year, as workplace deaths dipped to a 13-year low amid an ambitious push to halve the current fatality rate.

According to fresh figures from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), 41 workers died on the job in accidents, including falling from height and being hit by vehicles.

It is the first time the figure has gone below 50 since 2004. From then until 2016, each year saw between 55 and 83 workplace deaths.

Analysts attributed the improvement to efforts by stakeholders such as developers, contractors and workers to change mindsets about safety, as well as legislative changes and a step-up in enforcement.

But they cautioned against reading too much into one year's data.

They added that Singapore will need to double its efforts to have fewer than one workplace fatality per 100,000 workers before 2028 - a target set by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last year and maintained by countries such as the Netherlands, Britain and Sweden.

It is half the current rate of 1.9 recorded in Singapore in 2016. The figure for last year is not available.

Commenting on the latest figure, Singapore Institution of Safety Officers honorary president Seet Choh San and Singapore Contractors Association president Kenneth Loo said the focus on supporting companies in workplace safety and health matters has helped.

Mr Seet cited the MOM's SnapSafe mobile application, which allows company staff to flag unsafe practices internally.

This is not used for enforcement purposes by MOM, and it gives firms a chance to discover and solve problems, he said.

The labour movement has also worked closer with the manufacturing, construction and transportation industries, the top three contributors of workplace fatalities, said Mr Melvin Yong, secretary for the NTUC Workplace Safety and Health Committee.

Laws have also been tightened with amendments over the past two years to the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

A spokesman for non-governmental organisation Transient Workers Count Too said fatalities are only one aspect of safety and injuries resulting in permanent disability also have dire consequences for workers and their families.