SINGAPORE: The number of workplace fatalities rose last year as more employees fell from a height to their deaths, according to figures released by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Institute on Thursday (Mar 10).
Sixty-six workers died in workplace accidents last year, an increase from the 60 deaths the year before. Correspondingly, the workplace fatality rate rose from 1.8 per 100,000 employed people in 2014 to 1.9 in 2015.
More than one-third, or 23 deaths, were due to falls from a height, a sharp increase from the 14 deaths in 2014. Ten workers died after being struck by moving objects, an increase from the eight deaths in 2014, and another 10 died in work-related traffic accidents, up from six the year before.
The construction, marine and manufacturing sectors accounted for 56 per cent of the deaths, compared to 62 per cent in 2014. The construction sector remained the top contributor with 27 cases, or 41 per cent of all fatalities. The transportation and storage sector was the second-highest contributor with 15 fatalities.
FEWER NON-FATAL INJURIES
There were 12,285 non-fatal injuries last year, down from 13,535 in 2014, according to the WSH Institute. The number of major injuries fell by 11 per cent to 597 cases, compared to 672 cases in 2014, while minor injuries fell by 9.1 per cent to 11,688 cases from 12,863 in 2014.
A total of 157 cases of major injuries were in the construction sector, while the marine sector saw an increase to 32 cases, up from 29 in 2014. The accommodation and food service activities sector saw a spike with 46 cases reported, a 70 per cent increase from 27 cases the year before.
About 43 per cent, or 255 cases, of major injuries were caused by falls – including falls from height as well as slips and trips, WSH Institute said.
For minor injuries, the manufacturing sector remained the top contributor with 2,556 cases, although this was a drop from 2,922 cases in 2014. The construction sector also saw a decline in minor injuries from 2,686 cases in 2014 to 2,076 last year.
Slips, trips and falls was the top incident type for minor injuries, with 24 per cent, or 2,863 cases.
Cases of occupational diseases declined by 5.7 per cent from 992 cases in 2014 to 935 last year, WSH Institute said.
Noise-induced deafness was the leading contributor with 53 per cent, or 498 cases. Occupational skin diseases saw an increase of 65 per cent from 54 cases in 2014 to 89 in 2015, due to an outbreak of skin rashes at a construction site.
SPIKE IN ‘DANGEROUS OCCURRENCES’
The report included a new section called “dangerous occurrences”, such as the case of a mobile crane toppling over at a worksite in Jurong in March 2015. There were 46 such dangerous occurrences in 2015, an increase from 27 the year before, the institute said.
The construction sector was the top contributor, accounting for 50 per cent for the cases. The number of dangerous occurrences involving cranes rose by 83 per cent to 22 last year, up from 12 in 2014.
WSH Institute Executive Director Dr Gan Siok Lin said the institute is “particularly concerned” about the rise in fatalities, which has continued this year with nine fatalities in January alone, as well as the increase in number of dangerous occurrences.
“I urge companies to check your existing work practices regularly and to systematically build capability in recognising WSH risks at all levels of the organisation. Recognition of risks is critical as it is the trigger for further action to control risks. If done well, it would result in safer and healthier workplaces,” she said.