Written Answer by Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng to PQ on workplace fatalities related to overwork
NOTICE PAPER NO. 890 FOR THE SITTING ON 11 JAN 2022
QUESTION NO. 2294 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
MP: Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether the Ministry tracks workplace fatalities related to overwork; and (b) if so, how many of such cases have been recorded in the past five years.
Every workplace fatality is investigated to determine the contributing causes of the accident. This includes examination of the work schedules of deceased workers. In the past five years, our investigators had uncovered an average of five fatal cases per year (12% of total fatalities), where excessive work hours were suspected. Thus far, investigations have shown no evidence to link long working hours or fatigue to any fatal workplace accidents. However, our investigators will continue to examine for possible links in every new case that comes up.
To protect employees from fatigue and overwork, working hours are regulated under the Employment Act (EA). Workmen, earning up to $4,500 per month, should not work more than 12 hours per day. Errant employers found to be flouting the EA can be prosecuted and fined up to $5,000 for each offence.
The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council also promotes the protection of workers to prevent fatigue through its Total WSH programme, WSH Council guidelines and platforms such as the annual National WSH Campaign. Last year’s National WSH Campaign emphasised Care Time for workers to take care of their safety and health. Simple actions such as regular exercise, constantly being hydrated and having adequate sleep can improve one’s physical and mental health and allow workers to be more alert to unsafe acts or conditions at their workplaces.