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More training, enforcement needed to reduce fatalities at worksites

SINGAPORE — The construction sector has remained the top culprit for workplace fatalities, with the rate rising from 2.0 per 100,000 workers in the first half of 2015 to 3.4 within the same period last year.

More training, enforcement needed to reduce fatalities at worksites

Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor delivering the opening remarks for the launch of the Tripartite Oversight Committee on Workplace Health 2014-2017 Report. Over the three-year term, over 300,000 employees have benefitted from customised and holistic health and safety programmes, directly accessible at their workplaces. Photo: Health Promotion Board

SINGAPORE — The construction sector has remained the top culprit for workplace fatalities, with the rate rising from 2.0 per 100,000 workers in the first half of 2015 to 3.4 within the same period last year.

However, such cases have been decreasing “quite significantly” of late, Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan said, adding that there were two fatalities from the sector in the first half of this year. In the same period last year, there were 17 fatalities, based on statistics from the Manpower Ministry.

Giving these figures on Thursday (July 20) at a media briefing by the Tripartite Oversight Committee on Workplace Health, Mr Tan noted that last week’s collapse of a partially completed viaduct in Changi served as a “very timely reminder”.

“As far as workplace safety and health is concerned, we have to continue ramping up our efforts in three areas: Raise awareness of workplace safety and health, provide more training to personnel involved in workplaces, and maintain high levels of enforcement,” he said.

Last Friday, the viaduct under construction along Upper Changi Road East collapsed, killing one worker and injuring 10 others. On the same day, another worker died after falling over the edge of a building at a Sembawang worksite.

At Thursday’s briefing, the tripartite committee, which was set up in 2014 to push out workplace health and safety programmes at the national level, released its report from its three-year term.

More than 300,000 workers, including 32,000 mature workers (aged 40 and above) from seven sectors — including retail, transport and logistics, food and beverage — have benefitted from customised health and safety programmes. These sectors make up 40 per cent of the total mature workforce in Singapore, the report indicated.

Workers such as taxi drivers, bus drivers, cleaners, and security and retail employees were targeted because they are “less likely to prioritise safety and health over finances and family”, among other factors, the report said.

For taxi and bus drivers, for example, there were health check-up programmes. The committee also partnered 16 landlords to introduce healthier dishes in canteens and organise programmes such as exercise classes.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health, said: “Employers have to be supportive in terms of allowing employees to come onto the programmes, and providing the spaces and facilities. For example, in some of the bus interchanges, they’ve allowed us to use rest spaces for bus captains to organise talks, health coaching, and so on.”

The committee will reconvene later this year to serve another three years. Moving ahead, it will focus on high-risk industries such as the construction sector, increasing outreach to mature workers, and reaching out to small businesses that the Health Promotion Board engages through partners.

 

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