Construction safety school set up amid rise in workplace injuries

Construction safety school set up amid rise in workplace injuries

A construction safety school is set to open in July to train workers and boost safety standards in the industry. This comes amid a rise in overall workplace injuries in 2018, when there were 12,810 cases, an increase of about 2.5 per cent from the 12,498 cases in 2017. Cheryl Lin reports. 

SINGAPORE: A construction safety school is set to open in July to train workers and boost safety standards in the industry. 

This comes amid a rise in overall workplace injuries in 2018 when there were 12,810 cases, an increase of about 2.5 per cent from the 12,498 cases in 2017. 

Of the cases last year, 41 resulted in fatalities. So far this year, there have been nine workplace fatalities, with six from the construction industry.

READ: 41 people died in 2018 after suffering injuries in the workplace: MOM

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The 1,200 sq ft construction safety school at JTC Space@Gul, launched on Friday (Jun 14), uses technology to train workers. Virtual reality, augmented reality, as well as gaming and other simulation tools are used to facilitate learning, said SCAL.

"We're trying to simulate the actual conditions so that when workers actually feel it, then they will realise and remember why safety is important to them as well," said SCAL president Kenneth Loo.

One example is the suspension trauma simulator, which allows workers to experience what it is like should they fall with a harness strapped on. 

Workers are taught how to kick their legs continuously as they are slowly lifted by the simulator. It is a technique to keep blood circulating, as it has been found that if a person is suspended for longer than seven to nine minutes, blood will start to accumulate at the lower limbs, risking serious injuries.

There are also VR headsets to immerse workers in the environment of a construction site to experience what working at height feels like.

The school also adopts training methods from other countries such as South Korea.

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The opening simulator allows workers to experience the impact of a sudden 1.8m fall. (Photo: Corine Tiah)

Built at a cost of S$2.2 million, the new school is an initiative by JTC. The Singapore Contractors Association Limited (SCAL) was awarded the tender to design, build and operate it. 

Speaking at the launch on Friday, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said technology will be key in improving workplace safety. 

"The construction industry in Singapore comprises workers from different culture, nationalities and languages. This year, the construction demand is expected to remain strong, and more new and inexperienced workers will be arriving at our shores," he said. 

"By taking safety training out of the traditional classroom environment, workers can have a better grasp of safety concerns. More importantly, in the context of our construction industry, technology can bridge the language and cultural gaps of our workers."

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Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad looks at the consequences of an overcurrent accident. (Photo: Corine Tiah)

Two training courses have been tailored for JTC - a half-day project team onboarding programme and a one-day safety induction for workers and trade supervisors. 

The classes will be rolled out progressively from July, starting with newly awarded JTC projects. 

"All their workers that go through their construction sites will have to come through this training to actually experience this training before they are allowed on-site," added SCAL's Mr Loo.

The one-day safety induction course costs S$100, which will be borne by the employers. At least five other contractors have expressed interest in using the school, which can train up to 15,000 employees every year.

Training will be conducted in English for now, but the school is looking to include multiple languages like Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and Bangladeshi.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article said that there were 11 workplace fatalities so far this year based on figures from Singapore Contractors Association Limited. This has been corrected to nine.

Source: CNA/co(gs)

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