SINGAPORE: In an urgent appeal to employers on Monday (7 August), the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) demanded increased vigilance to ensure workplace safety.
This comes after an increase in workplace fatalities in 2022 compared to the previous year. MOM pointed to negligent risk control measures and individual negligence as the main culprits for these tragedies.
“We must not have a repeat of the spate of accidents in 2022,” Mr Silas Sng, Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health, Ministry of Manpower, warned sternly. “MOM will hold responsible parties fully accountable if they fail to protect the safety and well-being of workers.”
MOM has recently introduced stricter penalties for safety breaches, including a doubling of the fines for each lapse, mandating Chief Executives to be personally responsible for lapses resulting in serious or fatal incidents, and requiring companies with significant injuries and Stop Work Orders to hire external auditors for a thorough review of their safety procedures. The ministry will continue to strictly enforce these measures.
The Ministry cited two recent cases as a chilling reminder of what happens when safety is ignored.
On 15 June, a 20-year-old Indian national worker was tragically killed when a wall at a demolition site in Tanjong Pagar collapsed on him. Despite strenuous efforts by the elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) personnel, the man was found trapped under the wreckage and was declared dead at the scene.
In another incident on 11 July, a 33-year-old worker at a worksite in Jurong West was killed when he was struck by a reversing wheel loader. Despite immediate attention from SCDF paramedics, the man died at the scene.
“Had the right safety measures been in place, and had greater care been taken to ensure a safe work environment, these fatalities could have been prevented.” said MOM in its statement.
In 2022, the MOM recorded 46 fatal workplace injuries, nine more than in 2021. The workplace fatal injury rate also rose to 1.3 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers.
Following the tragic incident that occurred at the Tuas Port Phase 2 construction worksite on 29 July, Singapore recorded 17 workplace deaths in 2023.
The Ministry pledged to enforce stricter safety measures, in an attempt to reverse the worrying trend.