SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Friday (Nov 13) that it had uncovered close to 140 workplace safety and health (WSH) contraventions at waste recycling companies during an enforcement operation.
Dubbed Ops Bowerbird, the targeted operation was launched last month with the support of the Singapore Civil Defence Force. More than 30 companies were inspected during the operation.
"Our inspectors uncovered close to 140 contraventions which posed fire and explosion risks such as poor handling of containers containing residual flammable/toxic gases and obstruction to fire safety measures," the ministry said in a statement on Facebook.
"In addition, our inspectors also uncovered contraventions such as unsafe stacking, unsafe electrical wirings, poor forklift conditions, unsafe machine guarding and poor housekeeping."
MOM said that some companies were found to be implementing good WSH practices: Some refused to accept materials they were not able to handle safely, such as canister cans, LPG cylinders and compressors, for example.
"All employers should conduct risk assessments, identify the materials that your companies are equipped to handle, and adhere to safe work procedures," MOM said. "We will continue inspecting such workplaces to heighten focus on WSH, even amid COVID-19."
MOM and the WSH Council will be working with industry leaders to issue an advisory on safe recycling work next month.
MOM added: "With year-end festivities approaching, businesses may be ramping up their work activities to meet deadlines due to earlier work suspension.
"Last year, in Nov and Dec alone, there was a spate of accidents that unfortunately resulted in the death of 13 workers.
"MOM would like to remind all companies to maintain vigilance and ensure necessary safeguards are in place to protect workers."
Editor's note: A previous version of this article, citing MOM, said that 11 workers died in workplace accidents in November and December last year. MOM has corrected this to 13 workers.