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Prevention is the key to a safer workplace

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is deeply concerned about the deteriorating workplace safety and health (WSH) performance (“Address structural issues to reduce workplace deaths”; May 14).

Ho Siong Hin, Commissioner, Workplace Safety and Health, Ministry of Manpower

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is deeply concerned about the deteriorating workplace safety and health (WSH) performance (“Address structural issues to reduce workplace deaths”; May 14).

There were 28 workplace fatalities in the first four months of this year: Twelve from the construction sector and five from the marine sector, up from four and one, respectively, in the same period last year.

As announced earlier, the MOM has introduced stiffer enforcement penalties and enhanced programmes to help employers take greater ownership of WSH. This is complemented by stepped-up inspections of high-risk workplaces and intensification of outreach efforts to the workers.

For example, the MOM is partnering the Singapore Institute of Safety Officers to promptly communicate the learning points from fatal accidents, to create greater awareness among the workers.

We agree that a structural approach is needed to improve the situation. Hence, the Workplace Safety and Health (Design for Safety) Regulations were introduced last year to foster greater industry ownership.

Under the regulations, developers and designers are also held responsible for the safety and health of construction workers.

This will facilitate cooperation across the construction value chain to improve planning and management of safety and health risks throughout every phase of construction projects.

We also agree that evidence-based approaches are needed to address the root causes of WSH incidents. The Workplace Safety and Health Institute, formed in 2011, undertakes joint sessions with industry stakeholders to identify potential root causes of specific issues.

These sessions had provided good insights and helped identify practical solutions to enhance WSH in the sector. Sessions to prevent formwork, crane, tipper truck and work-related traffic accidents have been completed.

The safety of workers is of paramount importance. The MOM will continue to work with stakeholders and engage the industry to improve Singapore’s WSH standards and performance.

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