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Number of fatal workplace accidents caused by falling from heights down from 24 to 8 in past 10 years

SINGAPORE — The number of fatal accidents caused by falling from heights has dropped drastically over the last 10 years, but this continues to be one of the leading causes of injuries at the workplace, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohammad said on Thursday (Nov 14).

Number of fatal workplace accidents caused by falling from heights down from 24 to 8 in past 10 years

There were 24 fatal accidents at worksites involving workers falling from heights in 2009, but this number has dropped to eight in 2018, said Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohammad.

SINGAPORE — The number of fatal accidents caused by falling from heights has dropped drastically over the last 10 years, but this continues to be one of the leading causes of injuries at the workplace, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohammad said on Thursday (Nov 14).

However, Mr Zaqy, who is also the Minister of State for National Development, said he is confident that Singapore can achieve its Workplace Safety and Health goal of reducing and sustaining the fatality rate to below one for every 100,000 workers by 2028.

Speaking at the annual Work at Height Symposium on Thursday, Mr Zaqy said that in 2009 alone, there were 24 fatal falling from heights cases.

"Ten years on, and through the collective effort of all stakeholders, we have significantly reduced the number (of cases) of falling from heights to eight in 2018," he added.

Still, Mr Zaqy told close to 500 attendees, which included industry partners from the construction, manufacturing and marine sectors, that industry players must continue to "sustain the momentum in fall prevention efforts" so that a zero-falls target can be achieved.

"This year to date, we have four fatal falling from heights (cases)," he said in his speech at the Institute of Technical Education College East. "All of them could have been prevented if adequate control measures were in place."

He said the industries most at risk of such workplace hazards were construction, followed by marine and manufacturing. 

Among the four accidents that happened this year, two were from the construction sector, one was from manufacturing, and the last case was classified under "others", which includes the food and beverage and entertainment sectors.

TODAY understands that the recent Novena crane accident on Nov 4, in which a worker died in a crane collapse at the construction site of a new rehab facility in Jalan Tan Tock Seng, was not classified as a falling from heights incident.

"To help companies manage the risks associated with working at height, MOM (Ministry of Manpower) mounted a targeted enforcement operation in September this year," said Mr Zaqy.

He said about 300 inspections were carried out that targeted some 250 companies in the "high-risk industries".

A total of 548 enforcement actions were taken, which included four stop-work orders and 80 composition fines that amounted to S$91,000.

The "top contraventions", said Mr Zaqy, were the failures to cover or guard open sides or openings, provide safe means of access and egress, and ensuring work platforms of scaffolds were provided with toe-boards and sufficient guardrails. 

"The findings show that we need to do more to tackle this perennial hotspot," he said.

He added that MOM will "sustain the momentum" of its enforcement operations with a second round of targeted inspections planned in February next year.

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