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Noise-induced deafness incidents that were reported tripled from 168 cases in 2021 to 624 last year: MOM

SINGAPORE — The number of reported incidents of noise-induced deafness (NID) in the workplace spiked sharply from 168 cases in 2021 to 624 last year mainly owing to more awareness of the condition and greater surveillance.

Noise-induced deafness incidents that were reported tripled from 168 cases in 2021 to 624 last year: MOM
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  • The Ministry of Manpower released its Workplace Safety and Health Report 2022 report on Tuesday (April 4)
  • The report showed that reported incidents of noise-induced deafness shot up from 168 cases in 2021 to 624 cases in 2022
  • The rise was attributed to increased workplace surveillance efforts, as well as awareness among doctors and employers which resulted in more reporting
  • The top contributor to this occupational disease was the manufacturing sector, followed by the marine sector

SINGAPORE — The number of reported incidents of noise-induced deafness in the workplace spiked sharply from 168 cases in 2021 to 624 last year mainly owing to more awareness of the condition and greater surveillance.

This was according to the latest Workplace Safety and Health Report, which also noted that a mandated period of heightened safety from September last year led to a drop in workplace fatalities.

However, there was an uptick in workplace major injuries, the report added.

Here are some of the key findings from the report, which was released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Tuesday (April 4):


The report said the number of incidents of noise-induced deafness had been generally trending downwards from 498 cases in 2015 to 168 cases in 2021.

However, MOM attributed the recent surge to 624 cases in 2022 to ongoing enhanced workplace health surveillance (WHS+) efforts, as well as increased awareness among doctors and employers, resulting in more reporting of such cases.

In 2021, MOM rolled out the WHS+ under the national 10-year Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) 2028 strategy to minimise hazards that lead to occupational diseases, including noise-induced deafness.

Responding to TODAY's queries, a MOM spokesman said that under WHS+, workplaces with high noise levels are required to adopt upstream risk controls to reduce workers’ noise exposures and put in place effective Hearing Conservation Programmes to manage noise hazards at workplaces.

The spokesman added that MOM is also continuing to increase the number of workplaces under WHS+ as well as collaborating with the Workplace Safety and Health Council, an industry-led statutory body, to increase awareness and implementation of Hearing Conservation Programmes.

"Through these efforts, there was greater awareness in reporting of noise-induced deafness amongst doctors and employers which contributed to the increase in noise-induced deafness numbers."

The MOM report also highlighted that noise-induced deafness was the leading cause among 1,052 occupational diseases recorded last year, followed by work-related musculoskeletal disorders with 340 cases.

The manufacturing sector was found to be the main contributor to noise-induced deafness cases, accounting for 69 per cent (430 cases) of the total number of cases, followed by the marine sector with 8 per cent (50 cases).

The report did not provide information on the sectors that contributed to the remaining noise-induced deafness cases.

The MOM spokesman said that ​​​​​​manufacturing and marine sectors have been the top contributors for noise-induced deafness cases over the years, due to noisy processes that are present in both industries.

"Some noisy work processes include metal sheet stamping, grinding, drilling, grit blasting, as well as the use of powered tools and machinery."

Responding to TODAY's queries, Associate Professor Chui Yoon Ping of Singapore University of Social Sciences said MOM has been tracking noise-induced deafness for many years. It was a notifiable condition as far back as 1975, she said.

The deputy dean of the university's College of Interdisciplinary and Experiential Learning said that while noise-induced deafness is incurable, it is preventable.

Measures to help prevent the condition include using quieter workplace equipment, installing noise barriers and ensuring that workers have ear muffs.

"Training and education are essential to inform workers of the hazards of noise exposure and help them comply with all prevention measures," she added.


The report noted an increase in workplace fatalities last year from 2021. Specifically, in 2022, the rate of workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers was 1.3, higher than the rate of 1.1 in 2021.

By August last year, MOM said there were a total of 36 workplace fatal injuries, close to the 37 fatalities in the full year of 2021.

The total number of workplace fatalities rose to 46 by the end of 2022, of which seven were work-related traffic accidents.

Vehicular incidents, along with falls from height were the top two causes of workplace fatalities last year, and collectively accounted for 50 per cent (23 fatal injuries) of the total number of workplace fatal injuries.

The spate of workplace fatal injuries, said the report, was largely due to basic safety lapses, such as inadequate safety planning and control measures, and non-compliance with safety measures.

In response, MOM initiated a heightened safety period in September of last year for a period of six months.

As a result, the monthly average of fatalities decreased from 4.5 to 2.5, bringing the annualised fatality rate below 1.0 per 100,000 workers, and mitigating the occurrence of workplace fatalities.

Although there were fewer fatal workplace injuries during the heightened safety period, there was an increase in workplace major injuries, which MOM said is a cause for concern.

These are the top three major injury types:

  • Crushing, fractures and dislocations — 360 cases in 2021, 356 cases in 2022

  • Amputations — 102 cases in 2021, 114 cases in 2022

  • Burns, with more than 20 medical certificate days — 70 cases in 2021, 67 cases in 2022

MOM said the major injuries, which also include concussions and exposure to electric currents, among others, are indicative of persistent safety lapses at workplaces and some could result in life-altering disabilities.

Between September and December 2022, workplace major injuries increased from an average of 49.1 per month to 55.3 per month, compared to the January to August 2022 average.

This led to a rise in annualised major injury rates from 16.8 per 100,000 workers to 18.7 per 100,000 workers.

The full-year workplace major injury rate for 2022 was 17.3 per 100,000 workers, which translates to a total of 614 workers.

The top three causes of workplace major injuries were:

  • Slips, trips and falls

  • Falls from height

  • Machinery incidents

These collectively accounted for 59 per cent (363 injuries) of the total number of workplace major injuries in 2022.

The top three industries which contributed to both fatal and major injuries in 2022 were:

  • Construction (171 cases)

  • Manufacturing (129 cases)

  • Transport and storage (70 cases)


Commenting on the findings, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said that while the heightened safety period arrested the spate of workplace fatalities in 2022, more needs to be done to reduce incidents of major injuries.

As such, he called on employers and workers alike to “remain vigilant”.

“Only with our collective resolve can we get back on track to achieving our WSH 2028 goal of keeping our fatality rate at below 1.0 per 100,000 workers,” he said.

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workplace safety manpower Health

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