Oral Answer by Mr Zaqy Mohamad Minister of State for Manpower to Parliamentary Question on recent spate of fatal workplace accidents
NOTICE PAPER NO. 1264 OF 2018 FOR THE SITTING ON 6 AUGUST
QUESTION NO. 2081 AND NO. 2122 FOR ORAL ANSWER
MP: Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) what is the number of construction-related workplace fatalities for the past five years; (b) what is the local-foreign worker ratio of these fatalities; (c) what is the Ministry's plan to further reduce the number of construction-related workplace fatalities.
MP: Mr Desmond Choo
To ask the Minister for Manpower in view of the recent spate of workplace fatal accidents (a) whether there are common causes of the accidents; (b) which are the sectors where such accidents are more prevalent; (c) whether the current framework of measures is adequate; and (d) what new measures may be needed to prevent industrial accidents in future.
- In the first half of 2018, there were 20 workplace fatalities. This is slightly more than the 19 cases in the same period last year.
- Besides the construction sector, recent fatal accidents were also prevalent in the manufacturing sector and in commercial diving.
- One common cause of the fatalities was the use of improper work methods. To address this, MOM works with companies to raise awareness of accident risks in their workplaces. Besides engaging industry associations like the Singapore Contractors Association Limited and the Commercial Diving Association (Singapore), we also issue regular alerts to share learning points from recent accidents.
- For instance, we have notified companies on the dangers of improper use of material hoists, which led to a fatal accident in a food factory. We issued reminders on the proper procedures for doing construction work at height, as falls have accounted for about half of construction fatalities this year.
- Overall, however, workplace fatalities in the construction sector have declined over the last 5 years, from 34 in 2013 to 12 in 2017. On average, foreigners constituted 88% of the fatalities, even though they comprised 75% of the construction workforce.
- To guard against complacency, and to prevent injuries to both local and foreign workers, MOM has ramped up enforcement operations at construction worksites. By the end of the year, MOM would have inspected around 70% of all active construction sites.
- We will continue to adopt a mix of targeted enforcement while raising awareness on safety lapses. To achieve sustained improvements in workplace safety and health, we convened the WSH2028 Tripartite Strategy Committee to recommend new approaches. It will share its preliminary recommendations at the Singapore WSH Conference later this month.