SINGAPORE: Three people have died in workplace accidents since the start of the new year, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Sunday (Jan 19), as it called for companies to ensure a safe working environment.
"This does not augur well for workplace safety and health," said MOM.
"With the festive period approaching, some firms may ramp up work activities to meet deadlines. MOM reminds all companies of the need to review work practices and ensure that the necessary safeguards are in place. All workers deserve a safe working environment and to return home safe and healthy to their loved ones," it added.
CRUSHED BY GAS CYLINDERS
In the first incident this year, a worker was crushed by a toppled pallet of gas cylinders on Jan 8.
According to the Workplace Safety & Health Council (WSH Council), the accident happened when a group of workers was installing piles using a crawler crane at a construction site.
During the works, the crane operator turned the crane and a pallet of gas cylinders beside it toppled, landing on a worker nearby.
The worker was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
In the second incident, a worker was hit by a runner that had fallen from a formwork structure, said MOM.
The WSH Council said that four workers had been tasked to shift a formwork structure on Jan 11.
However, while they were moving the formwork structure, a runner fell from the top of the formwork structure and struck one of the workers.
He died in hospital from his injuries.
In the third incident, a worker fell from a tugboat into the sea, said MOM.
SPATE OF FATAL WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS
The workplace fatal injury rate has declined by more than 75 per cent over the past 14 years, from 4.9 per 100,000 workers in 2004 to 1.2 per 100,000 workers in 2018.
The government aims to bring the figure down to 1.0 per 100,000 workers within the next 10 years.
Forty-one people died after getting injured in the workplace in 2018, a record low, according to MOM data.
A recent spate of fatal accidents, however, is a cause for concern, said MOM.
Workplace fatality statistics have not been released for 2019, but MOM records show 25 people died on the job between January and September.
In November alone, however, nine workers lost their lives on the job, prompting MOM to step up enforcement of workplaces, targeting high-risk industries such as construction, marine, as well as manufacturing.
One month into the two-month enforcement blitz, MOM has completed 230 out of a targeted 400 inspections, said MOM on Sunday.
One of the top contraventions found during inspections was in relation to unsafe scaffolds that did not have toe boards and guardrails to prevent workers from falling.
Some companies also failed to cover or guard openings with effective guardrails or barriers, posing a risk of falling from height, said MOM.
During the inspections, MOM inspectors also found that some workplaces did not provide workers with a means of access to their work area, leaving them to find their own way in, said MOM.
In all, stop-work orders were issued to four workplaces for hazards that posed imminent danger to workers.
In force for at least three weeks, the orders will only be lifted after the firms rectify the lapses and improve their workplace safety and health management systems, said MOM.
"We will sustain the momentum of our enforcement operation, taking a tough stance against those who put workers at risk," it added.