SINGAPORE: There were 20 workplace fatalities in the first half of 2018, said Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad in Parliament on Monday (Aug 6).
It is slightly higher than the 19 cases in the same period last year, he said in response to questions from Members of Parliament Melvin Yong and Desmond Choo.
The majority of cases came from the construction industry but recent fatal accidents were also prevalent in the manufacturing sector and in commercial diving, Mr Zaqy said.
Workplace fatalities in the construction sector have declined over the last five years from 34 in 2013 to 12 in 2017. Foreigners constituted 88 per cent of the fatalities even though they comprised 75 per cent of the construction workforce, he added.
A common cause of the fatalities was the use of improper work methods, Mr Zaqy said, adding that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) works with companies to raise awareness of accident risks in their workplaces.
He said MOM has engaged industry associations and foreign workers, and ramped up enforcement operations to raise awareness of accident risks at their workplaces.
In May, MOM announced an additional 750 safety inspections after a spate of workplace fatalities and serious injuries. 80 per cent of these inspections have been completed, Mr Zaqy said.
In addition, six stop-work orders were issued along with 164 composition fines amounting to S$188,750.
"We hope that this sends a strong message to the construction sector to be more vigilant especially since they have contributed a significant amount of fatalities to the workplaces this year," Mr Zaqy said.
MOM NOTIFIED ON SALARY REDUCTIONS
MP Louis Ng asked about the notifications received by MOM on reducing the salaries of work permit holders.
Since 2011, employers are required to declare the basic and fixed monthly salary to MOM when applying for work permits for their prospective workers.
If employers want to reduce the salary of his worker, they can do so if they have obtained the worker's written agreement and notified MOM of the revision.
Mr Zaqy said that in the past three years, MOM has been notified of salary reductions affecting less than 2 per cent of non-domestic work permit holders per year.
Less than one in ten had their salaries reduced within one month after the work permit was issued, with about four in ten within one year.
"As explained in reply to a Parliamentary Question raised by the member on this topic last month, MOM is studying the issue and will consult with relevant stakeholders to determine the best step forward," Mr Zaqy said.