SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has uncovered 486 safety breaches from the 510 workplace inspections carried out since mid-December.
Seven stop-work orders were also issued, said Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad in his Committee of Supply speech on Wednesday (Mar 3).
Two safety time-outs were also called since last November by the Workplace Safety and Health Council and industry associations to improve safety protocols, he added.
READ: Construction firms urged to review safety protocols after 3 workplace fatalities in 2 days
A safety time-out involves reviewing all work activities and processes, along with safety protocols. This includes checking the stability of structures, as well as inspecting machinery, electrical installations and storage of materials and any hazardous chemicals.
“MOM is alarmed at the recent spate of workplace accidents. The ministry is investigating every incident,” Mr Zaqy said.
“We acknowledge that companies are facing manpower shortages due to border and pandemic controls. Nevertheless, companies must not compromise worker safety by rushing or having workers operate machinery or perform tasks that they are not trained for,” he added.
READ: Tuas explosion: 3 workers die from injuries, 5 in critical condition
Citing the Tuas explosion that occurred on Feb 24, Mr Zaqy said officials are “particularly concerned” with it and it was one of the worst accidents in recent years.
The ministry’s inspectors have started checking on close to 500 companies that may have combustible dust hazards, he said. The ministry will also appoint an Inquiry Committee to study the causes and recommend prevention measures, which could include new policies.
On construction safety, Mr Zaqy said MOM will release a framework emphasising safety performance for public sector construction tenders later this year, so that safer companies will have better access to business opportunities.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article said that MOM had uncovered safety breaches at more than 95 per cent of workplaces that it inspected since mid-December. That is incorrect. MOM has clarified that while 486 breaches were discovered following 510 inspections, one workplace can have multiple contraventions.