More workplace deaths and close shaves in 2022; surge in cases of work-related health conditions: MOM
Among the "occupational diseases" reported, cases of noise-induced deafness more than tripled from 168 in 2021 to 624 in 2022.
SINGAPORE: The number of workplace fatalities, dangerous occurrences and cases of occupational disease in Singapore rose across the board in 2022, according to the annual Workplace Safety and Health Report released on Tuesday (Apr 4).
Published by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the report showed there were 46 workplace-related deaths last year - a rate of 1.3 per 100,000 workers. This was up from 37 in 2021 and the highest number of fatalities since 2015 and 2016, when there were 66 each year.
The top two causes were vehicular incidents and falls from a height, which together accounted for half of all workplace fatalities in 2022. The most number of cases, 14, occurred in the construction sector.
"The spate of workplace fatal injuries were largely due to basic safety lapses, such as inadequate safety planning and control measures, and non-compliance with safety measures," said MOM.
The number of dangerous occurrences – incidents with a high potential for multiple fatalities, but where no one was injured – also more than doubled from 13 in 2021 to 27 in 2022. There were 46 such incidents reported in 2015.
Among the incidents last year, 20 involved the collapse or failure of structures and equipment, with the remaining involving fires and explosions.
MOM attributed the spike last year to a rise in crane-related incidents in the construction sector, which again contributed the most - 56 per cent - of all dangerous occurrences.
The ministry pointed to a S$4 million grant announced in January, to co-fund the installation of stability control systems on lorry cranes.
MOM also said it was reviewing additional measures that would enhance crane operators' competency, and increase the deterrence of unsafe crane-related operations.
In response to the spate of workplace fatalities last year, a Heightened Safety Period (HSP) was implemented in September. It brought the monthly average of fatalities down from 4.5 to 2.5.
Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said that while the construction sector has "seen improvements in reducing workplace accidents", the incidence of major injuries did not improve in some sectors such as manufacturing.
The HSP was thus extended until May 31 this year, and a Multi-Agency Workplace Safety Taskforce convened to come up with strategies to strengthen workplace safety.
"Overall, there was some improvement in the workplace safety landscape with the introduction of HSP, but continued vigilance is needed," said MOM.
"Safety measures announced earlier in February are being implemented and will take effect in the coming weeks and months."
WORK-RELATED HEALTH CONDITIONS
Elsewhere, reported cases of occupational diseases rose from 659 in 2021 to a new high of 1,052 in 2022 - or from a rate of 20 cases per 100,000 workers to 29.7.
These refer to diseases contracted as a result of exposure to risk factors arising from work activity, and listed in the Workplace Safety and Health Act.
The most number of cases - 506 - were picked up in the manufacturing sector.
Noise-induced deafness and musculoskeletal disorders like back injuries were the top two types of occupational diseases, collectively accounting for 92 per cent of all cases.
For noise-induced deafness alone, there was a spike in cases from 168 in 2021 to 624 last year.
MOM attributed the rise in reported cases to ongoing efforts in its Enhanced Workplace Health Surveillance (WHS+) programme, as well as increased awareness in reporting amongst doctors and employers.
WHS+ aims to minimise hazards that lead to occupational diseases.
MOM said it would continue to increase the number of workplaces under WHS+, and also work with the Workplace Safety and Health Council to increase awareness and implementation of workplace health programmes.